It’s not me, it’s you. Joël Matip has been wide open about his desire to stay clear of the Cameroon national team. Months ago, the Liverpool defender decided, citing personal issues with the Indomitable Lions’ technical staff, to pledge sole focus to his Liverpool career.
If you’ve been keeping track of the Cameroonian drama, you’ll know that actually several players have claimed to be less than interested in being selected for their Africa Cup of Nations squad. And yesterday, the Cameroon manager was asserting that all those players, including Matip, would been reporting for duty or facing discipline “in accordance with FIFA regulations.” That could have meant Matip would be banned from playing for the Reds while the tournament progressed.
But today the 23-man squad for AFCON was publicized. And I’m happy to reveal that Joël Andre Job Matip’s name was not on it. This will certainly come as a relief to all involved. And also to those not involved, but emotionally invested enough that thinking about things like this keep them from doing things like working, like us.
Matip will now remain in Liverpool consequence-free. If the German footballer can overcome the ankle injury that has kept him off the pitch for what seems like an eternal set of fixtures and retake his spot next to Dejan Lovren, he’ll be more than welcome. Ragnar Klavan has proven to be more than we expected, calm and positionally-sound at the back. But an extended run in the side could wear down the Estonian center back, who turned thirty-one last October and shouldn’t be required to go for a long haul.
The hope would be that we see Matip get time against Plymouth or Southampton, loosen up, shake off the rust, feel the vibe again, and then be ten thousand percent ready for the trip to Manchester United the following week. His reentry into the side this month, along with Philippe Coutinho, would be a crucial stimulus to a team that halfway through the season remains in the Premier League’s leading pack. And has eyes on glory.
Sadio Mané has already left for Senegal duty. We have six more games to go until the bell rings February. A little stimulus would be well-received.