x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

Yaya Toure's mixed feelings on going to Africa Cup of Nations

The midfielder acknowledges he is conflicted over leaving Manchester City to play in the tournament.

Yaya Toure has mixed emotions about heading off next month to the Africa Cup of Nations.
Yaya Toure has mixed emotions about heading off next month to the Africa Cup of Nations.

Yaya Toure has conceded he feels "guilty and confused" about leaving Manchester City to play in the Africa Cup of Nations (ANC), but says giving some kind of hope to the Ivory Coast is paramount.

Toure is set to join Chelsea's Didier Drogba, his fellow Ivory Coast international, for the tournament which starts in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea on January 21.

Just a year after conflict over a presidential election brought Ivory Coast to the brink of civil war, scenes of violence which accompanied recent elections have led to fears of another similar situation.

Although there is no civil war as such to speak of in the west African country, Toure is quoted in several newspapers as saying: "Our country needs people like me and Didier Drogba at the moment.

"There is a war again and it's important we do what we can for our people. It is dangerous and people are afraid. The team [Manchester City], the club and the manager needs me and I do feel a little bit guilty and confused about leaving. But I have to go because my country is going through some difficult things with the war. City will cope."

The City midfielder may be allowed to delay his departure so he can play in two key cup matches.

City face Manchester United in the FA Cup third round on January 8, with Liverpool visiting in the first leg of the Carling Cup semi-final three days later.

Ivory Coast would be within their rights to summon Toure - and brother Kolo - with Fifa rules stating that participating nations can call on players to report for duty up to 14 days before the start of a major tournament.

However, Francois Zahoui, the Ivory Coast coach, played alongside Roberto Mancini, the City manager, in Italy with Ascoli, and the latter hopes to have the Toure brothers for both cup matches.

Yaya Toure is adamant, however, that City's squad is strong enough to cope with the absence of the pair.

He said: "We have fantastic players who can take my place. I will not be away for a long time and I want to come back and help us win the league."

* Press Association