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Clarence Seedorf: Cameroon refuse to chase Joel Matip, Nicolas Nkoulou for Afcon

17:08 GMT 26/03/2019
Joel Matip, Liverpool
Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf has told Goal that he’s leaving the door open for Joel Matip and Nicolas Nkoulou to return to the national team
Cameroon coach Clarence Seedorf has told Goal that he’s leaving the door open for Joel Matip and Nicolas Nkoulou to return to the Indomitable Lions camp, but has refused to chase the stay-away duo.

The reigning African champions qualified for the 2019 event to defend their title in Egypt after defeating the Comoros 3-0 in Yaounde on Saturday.

Attention has now turned to selection issues ahead of the summer, with Seedorf revealing that both defenders have rejected Cameroon’s overtures since he was appointed head coach in August 2018.

“For the first three months after [assistant coach] Patrick [Kluivert] and I signed [with Cameroon], we have dedicated a lot of time to meeting and speaking with [Matip and Nkoulou]," he told Goal.

“There’s been no response,” he added, “but we have to have a deadline because we need to build a team, we cannot chase players.

“If players want to join us, they know where to find us.”

Nkoulou hasn’t featured for the national side since coming off the bench to score in the 2017 Afcon final victory over Egypt, while Matip has been unwilling to represent the national side for even longer.

The Liverpool defender, who is playing an increasingly prominent role for Jurgen Klopp’s side as they compete in both the Champions League and the Premier League, hasn’t donned the Cameroon colours since a victory over The Gambia in 2015, during the 2017 Afcon qualifying programme.

“All Cameroonian players in the world, local or playing wherever—if we think they can add value to us we will call them,” Seedorf continued.

“The door is not closed for anybody,” he added. “We are calling the players we think are best for the team, if we don’t call them then they are not best for the team at the moment.”

The coach has already jettisoned former captain Benjamin Moukandjo during the 30-year-old’s time in China, suggesting that "good young players don't compete in China or in Asia.”

Moukandjo, who is currently a free agent, subsequently retired from international football in disgust, while Seedorf performed a u-turn and recalled Henan Jianye forward Christian Bassogog.

Another burning issue for Seedorf is the captaincy, with the armband being rotated among several candidates during his tenure to date.

Paris Saint-Germain forward Eric-Maxim Choupo-Moting wore the armband against the Comoros, but Seedorf remains coy on his ultimate decision.

“Before the Afcon in Egypt we will get a list and get the first-choice captain, then second and third,” he concluded. “We just need to be patient.”

Cameroon’s Afcon appearance will be their 19th at the continental high table, and the Lions will be keen to repeat their feat of 2000-2002, when they successfully defended their African crown.

Words: Daniel Ekonde