Wenger slams Ivory Coast
Arsene Wenger will not approach the 'stubborn' Ivory Coast over the release of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue.
By Peter Fraser
Last Updated: 04/12/07 2:19pm
Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger insists he will not attempt to approach the 'stubborn' Ivory Coast management over the release of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue for January's African Cup of Nations.
The Gunners could be without two of their first-team regulars for more than a month when the tournament begins in 2008 and there is also the possibility that Alex Song could be called up by Cameroon.
Wenger is well aware of the heavy fixture schedule around the New Year and he is keen to have as many of his squad available as possible.
The Frenchman, though, maintains he is resigned to allowing those selected the maximum time off required after the frustrations endured in the past.
"They will go at the beginning of January," Wenger told the official Arsenal magazine. "They have to be available for their country 15 days before the start of the tournament,"
"Before the last tournament we tried to negotiate a later release date with the Ivory Coast, but we had no success so we won't try this time.
"They are so stubborn that there is no point in even speaking to them. We will give them the players when they are due, and won't even speak to the Ivorian federation about it.
"We were so disappointed with their attitude last time. We had to pull Manu and Kolo out of the FA Cup game against Cardiff (in 2006) an hour before kick off.
"The Ivory Coast were adamant they had to join up, even though they were only going to be sitting in a hotel room in Paris doing nothing.
"Eboue had not played many games back then, so it would have been good for him to play in the FA Cup tie. But they wanted to meet up on a Saturday night, and even though our game was early that day, they refused to give us permission to play them.
"It is not the players' fault at all, but the Ivory Coast management were very stubborn, and unnecessarily so because it would have been better for their preparation.
"So this time I count them out from about 5th January until approximately the middle of February."