Patrick Vieira says the Africa Cup of Nations is important for the continent and that it should be treated the same as the European Championships.
Premier League clubs may be able to delay releasing players to the AFCON until as late as January 3 with the tournament to start in Cameroon only six days later.
Liverpool trio Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane, Naby Keita, Chelsea goalkeeper Edouard Mendy, and Arsenal’s Thomas Partey, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Nicolas Pepe are among those set to take part. Palace players Wilfried Zaha, Jeffrey Schlupp, Cheikhou Kouyate and Jordan Ayew are also all set to play at AFCON.
Africa Cup of Nations
AFCON coverage ‘completely tinged with racism’ – Wright
30/12/2021 AT 11:59
Vieira believes everyone must understand the importance of the tournament and that he would never prevent a player from competing in the competition.
“I respect and I understand the passion and importance of those players to go and represent their country," he said. "I will never stop any players going to the Africa Cup of Nations.
I believe that competition has to be more respected because this competition is as important as the European Championship.
“With Senegal, I don’t think people understand [Sadio] Mane or Cheikhou Kouyate not representing their nation. If there was more coverage people will understand how important it is for the African continent.”
Palace take on London rivals Tottenham on Boxing Day and the former Arsenal midfielder says he is expecting to receive a hostile reception from his old rivals.
“I think [Spurs is] a really difficult place to go," he added.
The atmosphere, the players’ energy when they play at home is really good. We know what to expect, so what is important for us is to play with courage, with confidence and belief and to give ourselves the best chance to get the result.
"We know it’s going to be difficult, but we can make it difficult for them as well. I am expecting more than just a couple of boos.”
Premier League
Vieira to miss Palace vs Spurs after positive Covid-19 result
26/12/2021 AT 14:21
Premier League
Wolves extend Brighton's winless run as Crystal Palace and Southampton share entertaining draw
15/12/2021 AT 22:27