Football: Cameroon duo face club-nation dilemma

Liverpool's Joel Matip in action earlier this month against West Ham's Andre Ayew, who is bound for the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana. Matip has told the Cameroon FA that he does not want to play in the tournament, which starts on Jan 14, because
Liverpool's Joel Matip in action earlier this month against West Ham's Andre Ayew, who is bound for the Africa Cup of Nations with Ghana. Matip has told the Cameroon FA that he does not want to play in the tournament, which starts on Jan 14, because of previous issues with the national team's technical staff. PHOTO: REUTERS

Matip and Nyom risk EPL suspension if they don't answer Nations Cup call-up

LONDON • Joel Matip, the Liverpool defender, and West Bromwich Albion's Allan Nyom have been threatened with suspension from club football in the new year after opting out of Cameroon's plans for the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Cameroon Football Association claims that it will consider invoking a Fifa regulation preventing players from representing their clubs for the duration of an international tournament if they fail to play for their country when requested.

Matip, 25, was named in Cameroon's initial 35-man squad for the tournament in Gabon, which runs from Jan 14 until Feb 5. But he has told the FA that he does not wish to take part because of previous issues with the national team's technical staff.

Nyom, 28, who has been in impressive form after moving from Watford in the summer, was also included in the provisional 35 but has withdrawn, claiming he wants to prioritise his West Brom career.

Hugo Broos, the Cameroon coach, has reacted angrily to the decision of seven European-based players to make themselves unavailable.

The Belgian said: "These players have put personal interest above those of the national team and the federation reserves the right to take action against the players in accordance with Fifa regulations."

  • ENGLISH PREMIER LEAGUE'S AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS CONTINGENT

  • ARSENAL

    Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)

    BOURNEMOUTH

    Max Gradel (Ivory Coast)

    CRYSTAL PALACE

    Bakary Sako (Mali)

    EVERTON

    Idrissa Gueye (Senegal)

    LEICESTER

    Islam Slimani (Algeria) Riyad Mahrez (Algeria) Jeff Schlupp (Ghana) Daniel Amartey (Ghana)

    LIVERPOOL

    Sadio Mane (Senegal)

    MANCHESTER UNITED

    Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

    MANCHESTER CITY

    Yaya Toure (Ivory Coast)

    STOKE

    Wilfried Bony (Ivory Coast) Mame Diouf (Senegal) Ramadan Sobhi (Egypt)

    SUNDERLAND

    Lamine Kone (Ivory Coast) Wahbi Khazri (Tunisia)

    WATFORD

    Nordin Amrabat (Morocco)

    WEST HAM

    Andre Ayew (Ghana) Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)

    THE TIMES, LONDON

Fifa rules state: "A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club... during the period for which he has been released or should have been released."

Jurgen Klopp, the Liverpool manager, has previously said: "Joel was brought up in Germany. It's a different situation to Sadio (Mane) because he lived in Senegal. Players have to make these decisions by themselves, there is nothing the club can do."

Cameroon's final 23-man squad for the tournament is due to be confirmed next week.

The other five players to declare themselves unavailable are Andre Onana of Ajax, Guy N'dy Assembe of Nancy, Maxime Poundje of Bordeaux, Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa of Marseille and Ibrahim Amadou of Lille.

Mane believes Liverpool have the strength in depth to cope with his absence during the tournament. The Senegal striker scored a last-minute winner against Everton on Monday and is the Reds' leading scorer this campaign with eight goals.

"It will not be easy for me to go with Senegal next month. I would love to carry on playing with my team-mates but they will understand because it is my country and it is my dream," Mane told British media.

"Without me, the team will be the same. Even better I think. They will cope."

The return of striker Daniel Sturridge will lessen the blow of Mane's absence, while midfielder Philippe Coutinho is also set to return from injury.

"Coutinho will come back, Sturridge is back now. That is why the team will be strong," Mane said.

"It has not been easy for him (Sturridge) being out, he has had a lot of injuries, but you know he can deliver important performances for the team."

Liverpool, who are second in the league on 37 points and six points behind Chelsea after 17 games, host Stoke (11th) next Tuesday.

THE TIMES, LONDON, THE GUARDIAN

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 23, 2016, with the headline 'Cameroon duo face club-nation dilemma'. Print Edition | Subscribe