African football’s governing body CAF has revealed that the African Cup of Nations that has been traditionally held in January and February will now become a summer event from 2019.
CAF have also announced that the tournament in Cameroon in two years time will be expanded to include 24 teams, instead of 16.
The competition will continue to be held every two years, and exclusively held in Africa meaning the plans to take it abroad to China and Qatar have been thwarted together with the idea of having a guest appearance from an invited nation at the tournament.
The changes were finalised by the CAF executive committee in the Moroccan capital Rabat on last night.
The news comes as a welcome boost for European clubs who have long had to contend with losing vital members of their squad at one of the busiest points of the season.
The scheduling switch has been welcomed by Reds boss Jurgen Klopp.
“It’s fantastic. When we signed Mo Salah, I was already thinking ‘Oh my God in one-and-a-half years we lose both in the winter’, but that’s not happening now so that gives us two more players in winter time. That’s very good,” he said.
Former Cameroon goalkeeper Joseph-Antoine Bell believes the switch is not being made to satisfy European clubs, but makes sense.
“It is good for our players, our people and the game,” he told BBC World Service.
“You cannot keep saying players should come to play for their home team while they are being paid by somebody else.”
AFC Wimbledon’s Ghana striker Kwesi Appiah said the current scheduling placed some players in a difficult position.
“I never would have had that problem myself, but you probably do get some players who pull out because they don’t want to leave or upset their club. They don’t want to lose their place in the team,” he said.
“No manager would come out openly and say I don’t want my player to play in this tournament but I’m sure there is some pressure behind closed doors.”
Story By BBC Sports