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Later Nations Cup start set to raise European eyebrows

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The 2012 African Nations Cup finals will be played from Jan. 21 to Feb. 12, threatening to again raise the ire of club coaches across Europe.

The dates were confirmed by the Confederation of African Football after a meeting of its executive committee in Khartoum this week and represents a change in attitude after African football’s governing body agreed to host the 2010 tournament earlier in the year to accommodate European clubs.

The 2010 Nations Cup in Angola started on Jan. 10 in a move CAF said was designed to cause minimal disruption to the club careers of many of its top stars.

It came after consistent complaints from players and many club managers and coaches about the timing of the bi-annual tournament.

With many leagues taking a winter break at that time, many players at clubs in Europe were able to compete at the 2010 finals without missing domestic matches.

Clubs are obliged to release their players for the Nations Cup, which is a continental championship, with countries entitled to call them up for 14 days before their opening match.

Equatorial Guinea and Gabon are co-hosting the 16-team tournament, with the vast majority of players expected to come from European-based clubs.

The opening match will be played in Bata in Equatorial Guinea and the final in Libreville.

The draw is to be held in late October or early November this year, but CAF is still to fix a date and venue, a spokesman said on Friday.

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