Disrupted preparations have been a factor in a low-scoring start to the Africa Cup of Nations, according to experienced former manager Claude Le Roy.
Clubs were only obliged to release players on 3 January, just six days before the tournament kicked off.
Hosts Cameroon are the sole side to have scored two or more goals in a game, while 10 of the first 14 matches have ended 1-0 – with two 0-0 draws.
“Fifa allowed the clubs to let players arrive at the last minute and that means the first games are like preparation or training matches,” Frenchman Le Roy, who led Cameroon to Nations Cup glory in 1988, told the BBC’s World Football podcast.
“It is very, very difficult for the coaches and the teams to present a collective way of playing because there were so few training sessions together.
“Normally for an Afcon you have training for two or three weeks before the competition, like for a European Championship.
“It [the quality of football] will definitely improve a lot after one or two weeks. It will be so, so different.”
Along with the tournament taking place mid-season, fears over the spread of the Omicron variant of coronavirus were cited by the European Club Association as a reason to withhold their players.
Several countries at the Nations Cup have been affected by outbreaks of Covid-19 in their squads, with warm-up friendlies called off and sides such as Cape Verde, Guinea, Malawi and Senegal unable to name a full complement of substitutes in their opening matches.
Two of Algeria’s players, meanwhile, said the high heat and humidity in Cameroon was a factor in their goalless draw against Sierra Leone.
Le Roy, who counts Ghana and Senegal among the six African countries he has coached, has managed at nine Nations Cups and believes the competition does not get the respect it deserves in Europe.
“The clubs in Europe think it is a very good thing to find players in Africa and take the best of Africa, but they don’t realise that maybe sometimes they have to help a little bit,” Le Roy, 73, added.
“They don’t realise how important Afcon is for African people – it is more important than the World Cup, and they have to realise that.
“They have to help the African people for the organisation of the Afcon, and not to fight against that, but Africa is not considered like the other continents. That this the reality.”