Demba Ba hopes Newcastle fans will understand why he has to go off in January to play for Senegal in the African Cup of Nations.
Demba Ba – playing for Senegal
That competition is similar to the European Championships, but the big difference is the African Cup of Nations has been held every two years since 1968, and the European Championships, like the World Cup, is every four years.
It is held in January, during the Premier League season, simply because that’s when the temperatures in Africa are at their lowest, and in January it will be the 28th edition of the tournament, and will be co-hosted by Gabon and Equatorial Guinea.
Why isn’t it every four years like the other major Championships?
The competition takes place from January 21st, and the final is played on 12th February, with the players reporting to their squads a week before the tournament commences.
Senegal have never won the Championship, although they were runners up in 2002, and Ba had this to say today to Newcastle fans:
“I understand why Newcastle supporters are disappointed that I will be away for a few weeks at the African Cup of Nations, but I hope they also understand why it is so important to me to play in it,”
“Senegal is my nation and back home in Senegal, it would mean so much to the people if we were to do well in the competition.”
“Playing for your country is still one of the biggest honors in the game, and when it is in a major tournament, it is even more special.”
“I want to go there and try to help my team-mates and my country win the competition.”
“Next summer, everyone over here will be getting excited about England playing in the European Championships. Well this is the same for us.”
“It is exactly the same importance, it is just unfortunate that it happens during the Premier League season. It is a shame I will have to miss some Newcastle games.”
If Demba Ba leaves to join the squad on 14th January and Senegal reach the final he will miss the following Newcastle games, as will Cheick Tiote if the Ivory Coast reach the final:
January Sun 15 13:30 H QPR Sat 21 15:00 A Fulham February Wed 01 20:00 A Blackburn Sat 04 15:00 H Aston Villa Sat 11 15:00 A Tottenham
And there could also be the 4th round of the FA Cup in there, if we get through the 3rd round in early January.
You would hope that Ba and Tiote can play in the QPR game at home before they take off to join their squads, and if that’s true, they will miss only 4 games in the league.
That’s not too bad, as long as both players return uninjured from the tournament.