Okocha scored his debut goal for Nigeria after rifling a free-kick into the back of the net against Algeria in the 1994 FIFA World Cup qualifiers.
Super Eagles legend, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, has raised a complaint about the timing of the AFCON tournament, claiming the effects of the competition aren’t fair on the players, Soccernet.ng reports.
Okocha, 50, donned the jersey of the Nigerian National team seventy-three times, scoring fourteen goals across several tournaments.
The former Paris Saint-Germain attacking midfielder made his debut for Nigeria in 1994 and won the AFCON tournament the same year. He also featured in the FIFA World Cup the same year, as Clemens Westerhof’s men were knocked out in the round of sixteen by Roberto Baggio’s Italy.
Speaking with BBC Sport Africa, the ex-Frankfurt player explained the timing of the AFCON tournament can have a big impact on players amid congested calendars.
“They’ve made it so difficult for African players by playing in January or starting the season and winter break very, very early. If they can move the World Cup to December because of the heat to suit the nations that are participating, why can’t they do something about the Nations Cup, and work together so that it will not affect anybody?”Okocha said.
In agreement with the statement of Ghana’s coach, Christ Hughton, Okocha added that clubs are sometimes sceptical about signing African players because of the timing of the AFCON tournament.
“I know a lot of coaches that refuse to sign African players because of the January window, but they will sign Brazilians who go to play in the Copa America in the summer. It’s not fair,” the former Bolton midfielder added.
The 2023 AFCON tournament will be hosted by Ivory Coast from January 13th to February 11th and will see a large number of foreign players leave their clubs to represent their countries.