Ivory Coast coach Vahid Halilhodzic has hit out at Chelsea, claiming that the Premier League fixture congestion has burnt out his key striker Didier Drogba.
Halilhodzic faces the prospect of having to play with a tired Drogba going into the opening match in the African Nations Cup on Monday against Burkina Faso and is angry that the striker has played nine games in five weeks for Chelsea.
The coach travelled to London last month for talks with Drogba, but he has now spoken out about his fears for the rest of his squad.
"We are worried for all our players' fitness in the squad, especially players like Drogba, who are always involved in so many matches," said Halilhodzic in the Daily Express. "It is unrealistic for a player to play two matches in three days. That kind of fixture list is too demanding for key players like Drogba.
"Ten days ago I went to England to discuss it with Didier because I did not want this to continue happening to him. He is a human being, not a machine."
The Ivorians are favourites to win the tournament in Angola, but have a number of key players who have been shattered by club football. Drogba and the England-based duo of Kolo Toure and Emmanuel Eboue played in a warm-up against Tanzania on Monday, but are still expected to play a major role in their country's bid for success.