In a statement given to Lensois.com, Issam Jemaa has openly criticized Fahid Ben Khalfallah’s decision to refuse to join the Tunisian national team without offering a convincing reasons prior to the African Cup of Nations.
Jemaa was defending his Lens team-mate, Alaeddine Yahia who also refused to partake in the continental competition and compared his case to that of Ben Khalfallah’s to illustrate why both situations were different.
“Alaeddine Yahia’s reaction seems logical. I understand it. He hadn’t been called for a while and then when the technical staff changed he didn’t change his mind. He explained this and everyone in the country understood his position,” said the forward.
“However, Fahid Ben Khalfallah didn’t have the right to abandon us at the last minute. He got a call-up, a plane ticket, and then he didn’t come! Because we didn’t qualify for the World Cup? Honestly, I find that this showed a lack of respect to the staff, the team, and the country. In the national team we play for our country, not ourselves.”
Although supporters of the Carthage Eagles are far from thrilled with Jemaa’s dismal outings in Angola, one thing that they have never accused him of is putting his personal career ahead of his country. His thoughts on Ben Khalfallah are widely shared amongst the team’s fans, most of whom don’t want the Valenciennes player to ever be called back into the squad again after his disappearing act on the eve of the African Cup of Nations.