|Several African players
at Europe are runing into problems this half year (Janury-June 2001) because
of the huge number of African qualifiers for Nations Cup and World Cup
which all take place on weekends. So they are wanted for the same match
dates by their club and their country. And are under a lot of pressure
from both sides:
Here a moral commitment
to play for their country. And a national team coach who wants them badly
for preperations, too, because he knows, otherwise he will beblamed after
a costly loss.
There a miserable situation
at their clubs: the coaches of the clubs see their team weakened, they
can not make thorough preperations,too, because sometimes the player is
there, sometimes he is absend.
Especially now: the qualifiers
take place in a rhythm which is extremely damaging for building a team
unit: a player flies this way in the week before the Nations Cup match,
then flies that way, often with some small injury and tired of travelling,
then he is available for club training a few days before he parts again
for the World Cup qualifier, taking place a fortnight after the Nations
So club coaches start to
try to mend their sides in giving contracts to possible substitutes. But
if those substitutes do well they will be also an alternative to the player
when he is with the club again. This even puts more pressure upon the players
and Radebe (South Africa) and Bakayoko (Côte d'Ivoire) are only two
prominent names which are joined by a lot of less known examples.
A nice twist in this epic
is the problems that some players from the Southern African area have with
releases from their clubs in the South African league. When the CAN Lesotho-Zimbabwe
encounter threatened to clash with a league match of relegation threatened
Celtic, the Celtic coach reacted in a way which would have led to an outcry
if performed by an European club: 'it is us who pay their salary, they
[some players of Lesotho] would not have been allowed to play for their
country'. Lesotho moved the match and so avoided the clash this time.
To turn entirely to midweek
matches seem a solution but probably isn't. First of all many players play
even more important European international club matches on Tuesdays/Wednesday
and second of all the protection period of five days preperation then would
interfere with the weekend before. And many countries would have to play
on dull midweek afternoon or night matches in front of smaller crowds.
A pitiful scenario for the biggest African games.
A much better solution had
been an organisation of matches into blocks of two or three matches in
succession (f.e. Sunday-Wednesday-Sunday) rather than the fortnight rhythm
now. This would spare players a lot of travelling and spare both, clubs
and National teams preperation time. The teams could reach a better level.
But again the problem is
in the practical details: travelling problems and different climatical
situations would mount some logiostical problems for schedule makers and
But the targeted FIFA calender
should go in such a direction.
A sidelook to Gaelic sports
(f.e. Hurling): here the regional selections play their championships after
the club championships in an entirely seperated block.