Jose Mourinho. Picture: REUTERS
Jose Mourinho. Picture: REUTERS

Washington — Manchester United coach Jose Mourinho has welcomed the decision of the Confederation of African Football (Caf) to hold the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in June and July, calling it "perfect" for Premier League clubs.

"If that’s the change it’s perfect for us obviously," Mourinho said. "Because it’s hard in the middle of the [Premier League] season to lose players like we do … it’s not good for the clubs, it’s not good for the competition, it’s not good for the players."

Caf on Thursday announced plans for the 2019 edition of the tournament to be held in June and July, rather than in its traditional slot in January and February.

Mourinho was forced to do without the services of Eric Bailly halfway through the 2016-17 season when the defender departed to represent Ivory Coast in the tournament.

"So if we can do that, if we manage to move the Africa Cup during the European break it’s a fantastic change," he said.

At the same time Mourinho acknowledged that Real Madrid and Barcelona have the edge in talent compared to United.

Barcelona defeated United 1-0 on Wednesday, handing the Red Devils the first defeat of their US tour.

It came on the heels of a penalty shootout victory over Real Madrid after the teams drew 1-1 in their International Champions Cup friendly match.

"I think at this time the best players are in these two clubs," he said. "We have to accept that as a reality. For us to play against both in a preseason [match] without any kind of pressure was very good for us.

"Both played with their best team — [it’s] very, very good for us to measure against them," he said, but added: "There is only one [Lionel] Messi. There is only one Neymar.

"You can work very hard tactically to try to improve your team, but there are players who are special," he said.

AFP

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