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Sports News of Thursday, 28 February 2019


CHAN rules must be altered to allow players on the continent to play

Over the years, one of the competitions introduced by CAF which I have followed religiously and relentlessly is the Championship of African Nations (CHAN) due to my love and passion for the local game.

The competition, which is limited to players plying their trade in their domestic leagues, was introduced to offer home-based players the platform to play top level national team football and to increase their marketability.

Through the CHAN competition, many players have had the opportunity to travel outside the shores of the continent to practice their profession in Europe and elsewhere, earning better lives as well.

One of the key merits of the competition is providing players and national teams the platform to demonstrate competitive urge of their domestic leagues and the quality they have therein.

Countries like Namibia, Angola, Burkina Faso, Rwanda, Uganda and many others have had the chance to show the rest of Africa and the world that their domestic leagues, despite not being the best on the continent, are capable of producing very good players to compete with the likes of Ghana, Morocco, Egypt, DR Congo, Nigeria, South Africa, etc who can boast of relatively better leagues.

I, however, upon sober reflection and thorough consideration of several factors, believe that the rules governing the competition must change to make way for players playing in the continent to participate.

I have raised it with some influential executive committee members of CAF but it seems they are yet to see the need for it as I see it and very soon, the qualifiers for the 2020 edition will be starting soon.

I have a strong conviction that the competition will be on the high if players on the continent are eligible to participate for their countries.

In so doing, a Ghanaian player playing in Togo or Burkina Faso or Gambia or anywhere on the continent can play for Ghana.

The same will be the case for Ugandan players playing in SA, Kenya or elsewhere.

The key reasons for my suggestion are;

– Increasing the marketability of the players

– Providing a highly competitive tournament

– Providing a level playing grounds for all countries

– Increasing the marketing value of the tournament with the presence of top players

Even if CAF can’t open the door for all players, a quota, like 5 players can be given, such that countries can strengthen their squads with their players plying their trade with other clubs on the continent.

Imagine a Ghana CHAN team with Richard Ofori of Sundowns, John Antwi of Al Makasa, Godfred Asante of Horoya, Rahim Osman of Zesco, Richard Ocran of Nkana, Fatau Dauda of Enyimba or Nana Bonsu of Enugu Rangers?

Or a Burkina Faso team with Songne Yacouba or a Zambia team with Augustine Mulenga.

I can say same for Uganda, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Swaziland etc who have most of their players in SA.

When such a rule is allowed a player like Ali Maaloul can be eligible to play for Tunisia while Oluwafemi Ohayi plays for Nigeria despite playing for Al Ahly in Egypt.

Framck Kom can feature for Cameroon despite playing for Eperance while Murshid Jjuko stars for Uganda despite plying his trade in Tanzania.

The availability of these players in the competition will not only heighten its competitiveness, but also raise the level of the tournament with the presence of many star players who are known around the continent.

It will also provide national teams the platform of commanding fans all over the continent as their fan base will not only be limited to a specific country but around the continent.

For instance, many Tanzanians are likely to support Uganda because of Murshid Jjuko while Orlando Pirates fans tilt towards Zambia because OF Augustine Mulenga, especially when these players are not playing against Tanzania and South Africa the tournament respectively.

I admit that there will be some challenges, especially with players playing in the other African countries likely to have the urge over domestic or home-based players.

But if the tournament is only for the interest of home-based players in their domestic leagues to get national team football, what about players on the continent who do not get the chance to play for their senior national teams nor the CHAN teams?

For instance, Ghanaian players like Patrick Razak and Godfred Asante who play for Horoya AC or Zakaria Mumuni who joined AS Vita Club recently, have had their national team relationships truncated the moment they traveled outside the country, despite being on the continent.

Meanwhile, all these players were playing for the CHAN team before traveling out.

I strongly believe that CAF must take a closer look at this suggestion and see the way forward for the tournament because I believe it will enhance and improve the tournament than diminishing its value.

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