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LAGOS - Nigeria coach Berti Vogts has ordered his players to report for their African Nations Cup training camp a fortnight before the finals kick off in January.
The edict will not go down well with European clubs as they will lose the services of their Nigerian internationals just after the New Year.
"There will be no exceptions. All players must be there on time," Vogts said in an interview in Switzerland, reports www.kicker.de.
Several English clubs, including Chelsea, Everton, Portsmouth and Newcastle, will be forced to release their players from around January 5 for the pre-tournament camp, scheduled for the Spanish island of Malaga.
According to Fifa rules, clubs have to release players to their national teams 14 days before a continental championship.
The Nations Cup finals, where Nigeria are grouped with the Ivory Coast, Mali and Benin in Sekondi, starts in Ghana on January 20.
At previous tournaments, Nigeria allowed players such as Nwankwo Kanu and Jay-Jay Okocha to arrive on the eve of their first matches.
Nigeria players in England include Kanu, Obafemi Martins, Joseph Yobo, John Obi Mikel and John Utaka. - Reuters