Confirming news that has been widely expected for some time, the Cameroon Football Federation have officially confirmed that Joël Matip will not be involved at the Africa Cup of Nations next month. And, based on their statement on the matter, they are far from happy with his decision.
Matip had signalled he would not accept any invitation to represent the country of his father at the mid-season tournament based on negative past experiences with the Cameroon national team and federation, whose professionalism and organisation he has been critical of.
“Joël Matip does not want to play with the Lions at the moment due to a bad experience with the previous technical staff,” noted the CFF as part of a larger statement on the AFCON squad that sought to criticise and condemn Matip and the other six players for failing to turn out for the national team.
“Seven have called the coach to notify him of their unavailability,” it continued. “These players want to privilege their personal interest to the detriment of the national team, which some of them have already used for their development.
“The CFF reserves the right to take action against these players in accordance with FIFA regulations. However, the coach wants to reassure the public that he will put in place the best team possible with players who are motivated and determined to defend the colours of Cameroon.”
Matip, for his part, was born in Germany to a German mother and Cameroonian father. His youth career saw him play for local SC Weitmar before joining VfL Bochum’s academy as a six-year-old. Schalke poached him from their youth system when he was nine.
In 2010, when Matip was in the midst of his first season with Schalke’s senior squad, the Cameroonian Football Federation convinced Matip to choose them over Germany by promising a clearer path to regular playing time than he would have if he represented the country of his birth.
The other six players who signalled they did not wish to participate at the AFCON were West Brom’s Allan Nyom, Ajax’s Andre Onana, Bordeaux’s Maxime Pounje, Lille’s Ibrahim Amadou, Marseille’s Andre Zambo, and Nancy’s Guy N’Dy Assembe.