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Ramatsiyi Moholoa

Ramatsiyi Moholoa

The Confederation of African Football is excited about the the new African Nations Championships, which has attracted all the continental soccer powerhouses.

It was introduced by CAF -- they made it clear that only players plying their trade on the continent will be eligible to take part -- earlier this year, .

"We started it after realising that there were countries whose national teams were dominated by foreign players," said Molefi Oliphant, CAF's deputy president.

"For example, Ghana, Nigeria, Cameroon, Ivory Coast and Tunisia have the bulk of their players based abroad when they feature in various tournaments.

"Local-based players hardly get a chance to play, now we have created a platform so that they can also play international soccer at a high level.

"No foreign-based players will feature in this tournament and we hope that it will grow in leaps and bounds like all the other high profile tournaments.

"At this stage, there is no sponsorship but we hope that a Good Samaritan will come to our rescue as we plan to make it a big tournament too.

"It will be a biennial event," said Oliphant, who returns home today from Libya where he attended the World Indoor Championships qualifiers for Africa.

Oliphant, who is also the chairman of CAF's indoor and women's soccer, added that it was not compulsory for countries to take part.

Asked if it won't disrupt the domestic leagues, Oliphant said: "Not at all, the plan is to work on a coordinated programme with all the leagues."

In terms of the rules of the new tournament, two teams will represent each regional structure of CAF at the finals in Ivory Coast next year.

Southern Africa countries taking part in the qualifiers are South Africa, Botswana, Namibia, Mauritius, Zimbabwe, Zambia and Swaziland.

Zambia and Swaziland are involved in the preliminaries with the winner meeting Botswana on May 5. On the same weekend, Bafana Bafana are away to Mauritius.

Zimbabwe take on Namibia in the other qualifier.

Some of the African giants taking part in the tournament include Ghana, Nigeria, Egypt, Cameroon, Mali, Senegal, Morocco and Congo.

Sipho Nkumane, Bafana Bafana manager, said: "There will be no disruptions of the PSL fixtures, we had a meeting a few weeks ago where our programmes were discussed.

"There are one or two things that we still need to sort out with the PSL, but everything is fine in terms of our preparations for the 2010 World Cup."


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