African football chief Issa Hayatou blasted criticism by the continent's top players of the timing of the African Nations Cup on Friday, telling them to stop putting their own interest first.
Confederation of African Football president Hayatou, addressing a CAF congress in Accra, continued his firm line on the future of the tournament.
Among those bemoaning the holding of the event in the middle of the European season, where top African players earn their living, have been the likes of Samuel Eto'o, Michael Essien and El Hadji Diouf.
All have left their clubs at a key moment of the season to play in the Nations Cup, which starts in Ghanaon Sunday.
"The players who criticise the event should learn to put the interest of African football above those of their own," Hayatou said.
He again blamed climatic conditions in Africa as a reason for not switching the event to mid-year when club seasons are completed.
He also said Africa would also continue to hold the event every two years.
But CAF did make a minor concession earlier this week when they announced that the 2010 Nations Cup would start 10 days earlier, running from January 10-31 in Angola.
This will benefit clubs in countries where the leagues have a winter break.