Cameroon’s national team is a mess, and seven players had refused to turn out for the Africa Cup of Nations. Yet late yesterday, the national team manager was still insisting he expected some of them to show, including Liverpool’s Joël Matip. Today, another retired from international football to avoid facing potential sanctions.
Matip has made it clear he had no intention of joining Cameroon’s national team for the upcoming AFCON. The German-born centre half hasn’t represented the country of his ancestry in recent seasons and has said he has issues with the way the national team is organised and run that make turning out for them unappealing.
“We have three players who should arrive on Tuesday including Allan Nyom, Joël Matip, and Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting,” read a brief statement from Cameroon manager Hugo Broos yesterday. As of today, Tuesday, Matip remains in Liverpool and Schalke’s Choupo-Moting has chosen to retire from international football.
West Brom right back Allan Nyom, on the other hand, has agreed to travel for in-person talks with Broos this week that will see him miss at least one game for his club. If those talks go well, Nyom could still end up playing at AFCON this month. Matip, by all accounts, remains firm in his decision to sit out the tournament.
The defender appeared to want Cameroon to prove they had solved any issues he had with their set-up before reconsidering his position in the future rather than joining up this month based on Broos’ insistence that things had changed and that their professional and organisational shortcomings had been adequately addressed.
With Cameroon publicly making noise about expecting him to show up, though, a complaint with FIFA could now be in the works. The expectation of such will have been behind Choupo-Moting deciding to retire from international football, and it would not be a major surprise if Liverpool and Matip made a similar announcement.
If Cameroon lodged a complaint and if Matip remained eligible, the centre half would face being barred from playing for Liverpool for the duration of the AFCON and the club could be fined. International retirement would make him ineligible, and if in the future he changed his mind he could come out of retirement.