Jay Jay Okocha: Super Eagles Legend Criticises CAF For Timing of AFCON 2023

Jay Jay Okocha: Super Eagles Legend Criticises CAF For Timing of AFCON 2023

Ero Samson
updated at February 13, 2024 at 11:54 AM
In this article:
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A. A. Okocha
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CAF Africa Cup of Nations logo
  • The African Cup of Nations is set to herald the early stages of 2024
  • A host of clubs are left disgruntled with losing their top players
  • Super Eagles legend has hit out at CAF regarding the AFCON schedule

The African football landscape is poised for a momentous pause as the spotlight shifts to the Cup of Nations in the early months of 2024.

Ivory Coast is gearing up to host the 34th edition of this biennial football tournament, showcasing the continent's top talents.

AFCON, Jay Jay Okocha, Nigeria, Super Eagles
Jay Jay Okocha recently shared his thoughts on the schedule of the African Cup of Nations. Image: Issouf Sanogo.
Source: Getty Images

While fans and stakeholders eagerly anticipate the kickoff of what promises to be a riveting festival of football, a wave of discontent ripples through elite clubs across Europe due to the tournament schedule.

Notably, Serie A champions Napoli, highflying Atalanta, Liverpool, and Bayer Leverkusen find themselves aggrieved as they are set to be without key players for the duration of the competition, potentially impacting their season aspirations.

Amidst the countdown to the tournament, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, the legendary Super Eagles of Nigeria midfielder and 1994 AFCON winner, has taken a stand against the organising body, criticising the timing of the event and its repercussions on African players in European leagues.

Okocha on AFCON timing

In an interview with the BBC, the 50-year-old retired midfielder expressed his dissatisfaction with the AFCON schedule, stating,

"They've made it so difficult for African players by playing in January or starting the season and winter break very, very early."

Okocha questioned why adjustments couldn't be made similar to the World Cup's move to December for weather considerations, advocating for collaborative efforts to mitigate the impact on players.

The former Bolton midfielder further underscored the adverse effects of the competition on the careers of several African stars, noting,

"I know a lot of coaches that refuse to sign African players because of the January (AFCON) window, but they will sign Brazilians who go to play in the Copa America in the summer. It's not fair."

Interestingly, Okocha's sentiments echo those of Atalanta's manager, Gian Piero Gasperini, who expressed frustration in a recent interview reported by Football Italia.

The 65-year-old is visibly displeased with the extended absence of his star forward, Ademola Lookman, during the 2023 edition of the competition, scheduled from January 13 to February 11, 2024.

Super Eagles goalkeeper makes impressive debut

Sports Brief in a previous report highlighted that Super Eagles goalkeeper Maduka Okoye made an impressive debut in Udinese’s three-nil victory against highflying Bologna.

The 24-year-old was on had to hand Gabriele Cioffi’s side their first victory since November.

The former Watford shot-stopper was omitted from the final 25-man list released by coach Jose Peseiro.

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Ero Samson
Samson Ero is a sports journalist with a track record of over five years in the Nigerian media industry. He graduated from Nigerian Institute of Journalism (2021-2023).