AFCON Must Be Respected 100 Per Cent – Super Eagles’ Troost-Ekong

Super Eagles of Nigeria’s captain, William Troost-Ekong, says seeing his fellow Africans being asked if they would honour national call-ups to play in the Africa Cup of Nations has been difficult.

Troost-Ekong, who is of mixed Dutch-Nigerian heritage, says the continental competition should “100 per cent be more respected.”

The competition starts in Cameroon today, Sunday, January 9, 2022 after several postponements due to the COVID-19 pandemic ravaging globally. Troost-Ekong, who plays for Watford, is one of five Premier League players representing Nigeria in Cameroon but his compatriot and teammate in England, Emmanuel Dennis, was not released by The Hornets.

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According to the 28-year-old, seeing Premier League players being asked if they would honour their national call-ups had been “difficult”.

He said, “If it was the Euros or any other tournament, I don’t think there would be any kind of conversation like this; that would be ludicrous.”

Ex-Arsenal striker Ian Wright, Crystal Palace manager Patrick Vieira and former Newcastle and Tottenham defender Sebastien Bassong are also calling for more respect to be shown to the tournament.

The Fifa rule requiring clubs to release their players by 27 December was changed “in the spirit of goodwill and solidarity”, allowing players to play for their clubs until 3 January.

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“I can understand it to an extent because we are leaving during the season, which is probably different to other major tournaments that are happening. But people already knew that it was going to be in January, for a long time,” Troost-Ekong said.

“Unfortunately, I think quite a lot has been taken away from the tournament and the excitement that should have been there because of those questions.”

Troost-Ekong was first called up by Nigeria in 2015. Since then, he has won a bronze medal at the Rio Olympics and has earned more than 40 caps.

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