DESPITE his pride at representing the Ivory Coast at the African Cup of Nations, the tournament could hardly come at a worse time for Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure.
City's expensively assembled squad is trying to clinch the club's first English championship since 1968, but Toure could miss about half a dozen Premier League matches if his country makes it to the final of the competition, which runs from January 21 to February 11.
With Toure a driving force for the Premier League leaders, the scheduling of the tournament in the middle of the European season could seriously hamper the club's momentum.
"It's a very big problem because your mind is with your club," Toure said. "You want to try and help your club but you have to go away and do other things with your country. We don't have any option.
"If you stay with your club and don't play with your national team, you get suspended. You have to go and help your country. It's difficult."
Toure's importance to the side was illustrated at the end of last season when he scored the winning goal in the semi-final and final of the FA Cup to clinch City's first major trophy since 1976.