Newcastle may well be without strikers Papiss Cisse and Demba Ba for most of the pre-season, and for the European play-off games in August, if we have to play two of then.
Papiss Cisse - after scoring against Swansea recently
The Olympic football tournament will be taking place in August, and that’s the same time as the preliminary round of the Europa League takes place, and it looks increasingly likely that Cisse and Ba will be selected for the Senegal squad for the upcoming Olympic Games.
Senegal beat Oman on Monday, and will face Great Britain, Uruguay and UAE in Group A of the Olympic competition, after the draw was made yesterday for the group stages.
The Senegal FA President Augustin Senghor has talked about trying to get their best players at the Olympics, since they lost all three of their games in the African Cup of Nations last January, and it could be that both Cisse and Ba could be missing from Newcastle for up to a month.
Senghor had this to say yesterday:
“If we can strengthen our young team with famous players from great championships like the Premier League, we should,” “We need top scorers like Papiss Cisse. If you leave players like that at home, it is a big mistake.”
“If we call them, they will come. It is a privilege to participate in the Olympic Games. There are many great players who regret not playing in the Olympics.”
“They are patriotic guys. They will come if we ask. Also, it will be a very good thing for them to play against their colleagues in England. It will create a lot of focus around the game and the stadium will be full.”
The Olympics is a mandatory tournament of FIFA, which means clubs cannot stop their players from participating, so Newcastle’s hands are tied behind their backs – again.
We lost Demba Ba and Cisse for the African Cup of Nations earlier this year, and we will be without them again when the next African Cup of Nations takes place next January.
So to also lose them for the Olympic Games in August is getting a bit much – since Senegal do not pay their wages.
The African Cup of Nations needs to move to a four year cycle for their tournament like other FIFA organizations do – such as the European Championships.
Ten years ago or more it was not a problem, but with so many African players playing in the Premier League these days, to lose players half way through the European season, for up to six weeks every two years, is a little ridiculous.
The loss of Demba Ba and Papiss Cisse in August will hardly help Newcastle in their drive to reach the group stages of European competition – whether it’s the Europa League or the Champions League.
This all seems a little bit too much.