Ivorians irritate Gunners boss
By Tom Adams
Last Updated: 01/01/70 1:00am
Arsene Wenger has criticised Ivory Coast for a lack of common sense regarding the ACN.Arsene Wenger has criticised Ivory Coast for a lack of common sense after both Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue were banned from playing for Arsenal just 90 minutes before their FA Cup tie with Cardiff.
Both players were gearing up to take on the Championship side on Saturday but the African nation invoked Fifa's 14 day rule ahead of the upcoming African Cup of Nations.
The Gunners had been hoping to keep hold of the two defenders until after Tuesday's Carling Cup semi-final against Wigan, but were warned by Fifa that using Toure and Eboue in the match they eventually won 2-1 could have had dire consequences.
After outlining his frustration at the course of events, Wenger launched a scathing attack in the latest club versus country row surrounding Africa's showcase tournament.
"At the team meeting at 9am on Saturday, Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue were both in the team," Wenger explained.
"But I had to pull them out at 11.30am as the Ivory Coast banned the players from playing and refused to give in.
"They threatened to go to Fifa if we played them. We asked Fifa and they said that if we played them, we risked losing the game.
"I didn't want to take that chance so I pulled them out.
"It's quite amazing when you get to a period where there is no common sense at all.
"We pay the players to play for them and they can ban the players we pay from playing for us - at a period where they're not playing at all.
"They're making so-called medical tests in Paris but it's just 50 minutes away from here by plane and we just wanted the players to go after playing.
"It is completely unbelievable. It's like you play the European Championship now and then the World Cup this summer.
"When they come back, they will be dead [physically] as the tournament is very intense in a different climate and there's all the travelling."
However Wenger has experienced some excellent news in recent days, with captain Thierry Henry pledging to stay at the North London side in the face of strong interest from Barcelona.
Reports suggested that the star striker had been engaged in secretive dialogue with the Liga outfit, but Wenger again voiced his belief that Henry acted impeccably and praised his skipper for rejecting the lure of astronomical wages in Catalunya.
"It's not about money with Thierry. He knows that financially the best deal was certainly not here," Wenger added.
"But you cannot question his commitment and his attitude. He's a straight guy and I was 100% sure he was not talking behind our back to anyone.
"It says a lot about the man. You could say he's done his job here and he could go to more glamour and more money, but he decides to stay and that's a big question of faith."