Sport Midfielder handed surprise AFCON call up

13:00  12 january  2017
13:00  12 january  2017 Source:   Read Sport

Newcastle loanee Chrstian Atsu blasts awkward timing of AFCON

  Newcastle loanee Chrstian Atsu blasts awkward timing of AFCON The African Cup of Nations gets underway on Saturday as hosts Gabon take on Guinea-Bissau in their opening group game. Four Newcastle players – Cheick Tiote, Mo Diame, Christian Atsu and Chancel Mbemba – will be representing their countries in Gabon over the next month, with Diame being the first when Senegal take on Tunisia on Sunday. Tiote and Mbemba’s home nations of Ivory Coast and DR Congo respectively play their tournament openers on Monday, before Atsu of Ghana gets his campaign underway on Tuesday. Players take great pride and honor in being able to represent their home nation at a major competition, but Christian Atsu has a different perspective. The 25-year-old has openly criticised the tournaments notoriously awkward timing in an interview with TV3 (via GhanaWeb). “I think this goes to CAF (Confederation of African Football) because they need to realise that when a player is doing well and goes to AFCON in January, when they come back, there is someone playing in their position and, if that person is playing good, it is difficult to win it back.” “CAF needs to do something about the tournament in January. It needs to be moved to the end of the season.” “For me when the season ends, a lot more people can watch the AFCON because there is no football. There will be more scouts, more fans and that would mean bigger exposure for African football.” Atsu, currently on loan from Chelsea, has been rewarded with more game time by Magpies boss Rafa Benitez recently and he has grasped his opportunity with both hands. The fans have warmed to the former Everton loanee, with most hoping Rafa can secure his services permanently either this window or in the summer.

Colombia national team coach José Pékerman has handed a surprise call - up to River Plate midfielder Carlos Carbonero after Aldo Leão Ramírez pulled out of the tournament because of injury. Carbonero, 23, was handed his chance after Ramírez suffered an injury in last Friday’s friendly win over Jordan. Carbonero could feature for the first time since former Argentina coach Pékerman took up the post in 2012.

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Arsenal youngster Ismael Bennacer has been handed a surprise late call-up to the Algeria squad for the African Cup of Nations.

Knee injury rules Southampton's Boufal out of AFCON

  Knee injury rules Southampton's Boufal out of AFCON Southampton attacking midfielder Sofiane Boufal is expected to be injured for three weeks, ruling him out of AFCON duty for Morocco.Morocco will be without Sofiane Boufal at the Africa Cup of Nations after the Southampton midfielder pulled out of the squad with a knee injury.

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As reported by the Mirror, the youngster, who made his senior debut for Algeria back in September, will join up with the squad after former Inter Milan midfielder Saphir Taider withdrew with injury.

The youngster will join the likes of Leicester City team-mates Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani as well as on-loan Tottenham midfielder Nabil Bentaleb in the Algerian squad.

Bennacer, originally born in France, changed alliances despite featuring for the French U16s and U17s. He made his Algeria debut during a 6-0 win over Lesotho in a qualifier for the African Cup of Nations.

The 19-year-old has made just one appearance for Arsenal’s senior side, he came off the bench in last season’s defeat to Sheffield Wednesday.

Algeria are set to face Zimbabwe in their group opener on Sunday before facing Tunisia and Senegal to finish their Group B fixtures.

Celta inflict shock Cup defeat on Real Madrid .
After surrendering a record 40-game unbeaten run, Real Madrid suffered a second defeat in four days on Wednesday as Celta Vigo took a 2-1 first leg lead from their Copa del Rey quarter-final at the Santiago Bernabeu. All three goals came in a six-minute spell midway through the second-half as strikes from former Liverpool striker Iago Aspas and Jonny either side of Marcelo's reply for Madrid handed Celta a famous win.Real can still salvage their quest for a first ever treble of Cup, La Liga and Champions League, but now need to score at least twice when the visit Balaidos for the second leg on January 25.

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