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Grant wants cup rethink

Portsmouth boss wants Fifa to look into future timings of African Cup of Nations

Last Updated: 22/12/09 5:26pm

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Grant: Wants African Cup of Nations rethink

Grant: Wants African Cup of Nations rethink

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Portsmouth boss Avram Grant wants Fifa to look into the timing of future African Cup of Nations tournaments because of the disruption it causes to clubs.

Grant's comments come as Pompey are set to lose four players to their national teams for January's tournament following the trip to West Ham on Boxing Day.

Ivory Coast international Aruna Dindane, Algerian duo Nadir Belhadj and Hassan Yebda and Nigerian veteran Kanu are all set to depart.

But with the Premier League's bottom side under a transfer embargo and facing the possibility of not being able to bolster their resources next month, the situation has left Grant fuming.

He said: "I'll say it again - I don't know why Fifa allow this. I don't know why they have the African Cup of Nations in January.

"The players go two weeks before and need one or two weeks afterwards to recover.


"We pay a lot of money, especially the big teams, to players who are not with us for two months. I think Fifa need to think about this."

Grant knows the problem can prove greater than losing four key players for a month after his experience as Chelsea boss in 2007/08.

As well as losing Didier Drogba, Michael Essien, John Obi Mikel and Salomon Kalou to the tournament, the Israeli's woes were compounded by an injury crisis at the club.

He added: "It's not easy. We had nine injuries anyway - (Frank) Lampard was injured and (John) Terry was injured.

"Then we had four good players go and play in this tournament.

"Firstly, you have to change the team and secondly, it's not easy when they are back.

"They are coming from hot weather to the coldest days in England. It takes more than a few days to get them back to normal."


To lessen the blow, Grant admits he will attempt to delay the Pompey quartet's departures until after their Premier League game with Arsenal at Fratton Park on 30th December.

But he does not believe the attempt will be successful, saying: "We will probably lose the players next week after the West Ham game.

"We will try and speak with the (national) teams and maybe it will be after Arsenal, but I don't think they will agree."

Despite his frustration about losing the players, Grant is determined to continue his side's good form, which has seen them collect seven points from their last four matches.

He added: "Even at Chelsea, we won most of the games at this time. It was not easy and we needed to think differently about the team.

"For any team that loses more than two or three players, it is not easy. But this is a fact and we cannot change it.

"So we will try to win in January without these players."

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