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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2021: European clubs ‘distasteful’ and ‘disrespectful’ - Ikeme

7:54 PM GMT+4 19/01/2022
Carl Ikeme
Some clubs were reluctant to release their players to participate at the ongoing African football fiesta in Cameroon

Former Nigeria goalkeeper Carl Ikeme described the reaction of European clubs to the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations as "distasteful".

Ikeme, who made 10 appearances for the Super Eagles before his early retirement in 2018, weighed in on the issue of releasing players for the tournament during the European season and he described it as disrespectful to African football.

The former Wolverhampton Wanderers star believes the foremost African football competition is just as important as the European Championship and that players derive joy in representing their countries in a major event like Afcon.

“I don’t think it is professional, I think it is distasteful. I don’t think it helps the reputation of African football, I think it is disrespectful,” Ikeme told GOAL.

“Whether you are playing for England, Spain, Nigeria or Egypt, there is no difference. These players find pride in wearing their national team jerseys.

"When I was playing, it was the biggest honour I had in my career – playing for my national team and nothing can be compared to it.

“To think any player who is looking at Afcon as a burden is wrong because they love representing their countries, as you can see when Iheanacho scored Nigeria’s goal against Egypt, how Nigerians in Cameroon celebrated.

"It is no different from the European players.”

The Super Eagles are in action on Wednesday night against Guinea-Bissau for their final Group D fixture.

The West Africans have secured their qualification for the Round of 16 after winning their first two matches against Egypt and Sudan.

This interview was facilitated by Freebets.