Toure: Move Nations Cup to close season

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MANCHESTER - Ivory Coast defender Kolo Toure would like the biennial African Nations Cup moved to the Premier League's close season.

The 28-year-old Manchester City player feels this month's tournament makes life tough for African footballers and says it is not easy for them to leave their clubs during one of the busiest periods of the season.

"It's very difficult to leave your team for a month to go to play in the African Nations," Toure told reporters.

"But you're going to play for your country, for your father, for your family, for your pride.

"If something can happen and it can move (to the close season) it would be really fantastic for us because we're caught between two really important things in our lives."

The Ivory Coast are strong favourites to win despite lifting the trophy only once before, in 1992.

They start their Group B campaign against Burkina Faso on Monday and also come up against Toure's City colleague Emmanuel Adebayor's Togo and Ghana.

Toure feels a strong showing in the Angola tournament will be ideal preparation for this year's World Cup in South Africa.

His team face a tough draw in Group G against Brazil, Portugal and North Korea.

"For the African Nations people at home expect us to win it and for the World Cup they are really scared of the group we're in," said Toure. "But they know we have the quality.

AFRICAN FOCUS

"Portugal are a really tough team, we all know about Brazil and we don't know about North Korea but we think they'll be a tough team.

"We are really focusing on the African Nations," added Toure. "If we do well we can expect to do well in the World Cup.

"We have been playing great football but we needed some organisation, teamwork and team spirit. We love to work for each other and try to do the best for the team, not for each player."

Ivory Coast's civil war ended in 2007 and Toure feels the tournament is important for Angola which has also experienced bitter internal conflict.

He said: "We had a really tough time in Ivory Coast. I think Angola had more than us but it was still the same political problem.

"It's going to be really important for this country to be successful in this competition and to show that however bad a time you have, you still have some people who can organise things and make it work really well.

"Football is so powerful and we football players wanted to bring the country together because we are from different parts of the country.

"We've shown people there that even if you don't come from the same part of the country you can still walk together and achieve things," added Toure.