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AFCON: Patrick Vieira says tournament deserves more respect

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The Crystal Palace boss says he will never stop a player from participating in AFCON.

Africa Cup of Nations is less than a month away, with several Premier League clubs losing players to the tournament. Three Crystal Palace stars are among the players who will travel to Cameroon next month.

Senegal named Cheikhou Kouyate in their AFCON squad on Friday. Before that, Ivory Coast and Ghana had included Wilfried Zaha and Jordan Ayew in their squads, respectively.

Palace boss spoke about the players’ absence, saying he understands their passion for playing in AFCON. 

He said“I respect and understand the passion and the importance to players to go and represent their country. I will never stop any player going to play the Africa Cup of Nations,

“I believe that that competition needs to be more respected – because this competition is as important as the European Championships.”

Speaking with the reporters, the Arsenal legend encouraged them to take a greater interest in the tournament.

He added: “It might be important for you guys to cover the Africa Cup of Nations a little bit more and to go to Africa and interview people to really understand what it means for every single one of them,

“When you are talking about Senegal I don’t think people would really understand if (Sadio) Mane or Cheikou Kouyate didn’t represent their nation. If there was more coverage of that competition I think people will understand more how important it is for the African continent.”

AFOCN will kick off on January 9 as hosts Cameroon will face Burkina Faso in the opening match.