Ekoku: Cup should be every four years

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The Independent Football

African players would back a plan for the Nations Cup to move to a four-year cycle rather than the current two-year arrangement, says former Nigeria, Wimbledon and Norwich striker Efan Ekoku.

The tournament causes biennial consternation for European clubs as the cream of African talent disappears in January, but Ekoku, who was in Nigeria's squad for the 1994 Nations Cup in Tunisia, says the players have sympathy for their clubs. He believes Fifa and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) must step in to change the frequency of the tournament. "I can understand the point of view of clubs. It would be better to have the tournament on a four-year cycle," he said.

"[The two-year cycle] comes from the late 1950s and 1960s when it was the only source of revenue for the associations. Most African associations are still scraping by, which is a problem for CAF and Fifa, as they are the ones that can exert the pressure to re-jig the calendar. The players are certainly happy for it to be every four years."

He added that a four-year cycle would also make the tournament a more special event. "It's a shame it's every two years. It takes the edge off it a bit. It would add a bit more gravitas to it if it was on a four-year cycle."

On the tournament being hosted in war-torn Angola, Ekoku, who scored six goals in 20 appearances for Nigeria, said: "You can't expect everything to run with German or Japanese efficiency, but I don't think there will be any complaints. I've been to the last four tournaments and have been impressed. CAF do their homework."

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