How City might be affected by the African Cup of Nations
While club football is put on hold for the current international fixtures, the same is not true for the African Cup of Nations which runs from the 10th to 31st January. A quick assessment of the fixtures in this period shows that City may do better than expected.
- 9 Jan – Blackburn home
- 16 Jan – Everton away
- 26 Jan – Stoke away
- 30 Jan – Porsmouth home
Currently City would say farewell to Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Adebayor for the four games, possibly less if their teams get knocked out early on. Togo are unlikely to be amongst the tournament favourites, though Toure’s Ivory Coast will be expected to go far.
While Everton and Stoke away are potentially difficult fixtures, one thing that stands out is that the first three games will be physically demanding, against sides who focus on set-pieces and high balls into the box.
Of our central defenders – Lescott, Toure, Onuoha, Kompany – the smallest is Kolo. Playing the physically stronger Onuoha at centre-back, or the taller Vincent Kompany may well be preferable in these games.
Up front, Hughes talks of Santa Cruz as the kind of striker who relishes a physical battle. The ability to battle it out for a win against rugged opponents on a heavy January pitch probably isn’t why we signed Adebayor. Once again, Santa Cruz may be more suited to these games. Hopefully he will be fully fit and up to speed by then.
Finally there is Portsmouth at home. January could well be an interesting time for Pompey after they have followed in City’s footsteps by first being taken over by a billionaire without access to any money, quickly followed by one who has. At the moment a home fixture against Pompey shouldn’t cause us any undue alarm. They’re unlikely to attract any genuine quality in January, and any signings are still likely to bedding in. City still ought to be confident of victory.
Of course there’s the chance Hughes will look to sign a commanding centre-half in January, especially if we continue to leak goals from crosses. Even without any additions to the squad, a maximum 12 points could be possible, however 10 would still be a decent return.