Torn Toure committed to Côte d'Ivoire cause
© AFP

Yaya Toure has admitted he feels "guilty and confused" about leaving Manchester City to play in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (ANC), but says giving some kind of hope to the Côte d'Ivoire is paramount. Toure is set to join fellow Côte d'Ivoire international Didier Drogba, of Chelsea, for the tournament which starts in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea on 21 January.

Just a year after conflict over a presidential election brought Côte d'Ivoire to the brink of civil war, scenes of violence which accompanied recent elections have led to fears of another similar situation. Although there is no civil war as such to speak of in the west African country, Toure is quoted in several newspapers as saying: "Our country needs people like me and Didier Drogba at the moment.

"There is a war again and it's important we do what we can for our people. It is dangerous and people are afraid. The team, the club and the manager needs me and I do feel a little bit guilty and confused about leaving. But I have to go because my country is going through some difficult things with the war. City will cope."

I have to go because my country is going through some difficult things with the war. City will cope.
Yaya Toure on being torn between club and country

The Manchester City midfielder may be allowed to delay his departure so he can figure in two key cup matches. City play city rivals United in the FA Cup third round on 8 January, with Liverpool visiting in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final three days later.

The Côte d'Ivoire would be within their rights to summon Toure - and brother Kolo - with FIFA rules stating that participating nations can call on players to report for duty up to 14 days before the start of a major tournament. However, Côte d'Ivoire counterpart Francois Zahoui played alongside City boss Roberto Mancini in Italy with Ascoli - and the latter hopes to have the Toure brothers in his squad for both cup matches.

Yaya Toure is adamant, however, that City's squad is strong enough to cope with the absence of the pair, should they be required to miss both ties. He added: "We have fantastic players who can take my place. I will not be away for a long time and I want to come back and help us win the league."