Strategies deployed by clubs abroad to deny African players the opportunity to represent their countries during the highly competitive African Cup of Nations is a practice which does not only gravely affect the quality of Africa Football but also limit the chances of countries to win the tournament.
The 2021 episode of the African Cup of Nations is experiencing same challenge as clubs in France particularly have voted unanimously against decision by players to return home and play for their respective countries.
Many African countries have been affected by this decision. As it stands now, Senegal is in a state of frustration because 12 out of the 26 man squad called by Coach Aliou Cisse play their club football in France. These include players such as Abdou Diallo who plays for PSG, Boulaye Dia(Reims), Monaco duo Fode Ballo-Toure and Krepin Diatta, Rennes goalkeeper Alfred Gomis amongst others. The Senegalese Football Federation is now demanding the intervention of the French Football Federation to help resolve the issue before start of the game.
Ghana is another country which suffered from this occurrence as four of its senior team players, Nicholas Opoku (Amiens SC), Alexander Djiku (Strasbourg), John Boye (Metz) and Emmanuel Lomotey (Amiens SC) have been blocked by the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) which cited the pandemic as an excuse.
Nigeria was equally affected as the coach was forced by this decision to replaced Nantes winger Moses Simon by Genk striker Paul Onuachu.
Worried by this situation, former Cameroonian and Barcelona talisman, Samuel Eto’o has reacted during a recent interview. According to him, if he were President of the federation, he would prevent these players from participating in club football.
During the said interview, reporter, Nathalie Wakam asked the following question: ”There are African teams that will be at the front in a few days. There is a kind of controversy now about the fact that some clubs will not be able to release their players to go to their respective countries. How do you react to this?”
Samuel Eto’o replied by saying that, “I think that the real problem is not in Africa because we will see, the problem is rather in Europe now, depriving its national teams of their players. I would say that if I were president of a federation, I would take measures that will not allow these players to play in clubs. But as I am not and I remain just a football lover, so I look at it without having too much force.”
How do you feel about this development? Is your national team affected by this problem? How bad will the absence of the affected players affect results of the upcoming African Cup of Nations?