Afcon qualifiers: ‘We’re very affected’ – Comoros’ Athouman laments absence of France based stars

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Comoros Football Federation president Ali Said Athouman is unhappy that his country will be missing the services of five players during March’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Togo and Egypt.

The quintet of Faiz Mattoir (AC Ajaccio), Mohamed Youssouf (AC Ajaccio), Mohamed M'Changama (Guingamp), Yacine Bourhane (Niort) and Younn Zahary (Pau) will be absent from Les Coelacantes’ last two games.

The Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) had confirmed that French teams would prevent their players from travelling for any international games outside Europe.

That agreement was reached following a meeting between Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs on Wednesday – a verdict that will affect most African countries who have their star players in France.

One of such nations is Comoros Island who are on the cusp of qualifying for their maiden appearance at the biennial African football showpiece.

“It is a very, very difficult situation for us and it is terrible to deprive the players who have been involved for years in the national team, some of whom are close to the end of their careers, of this game,” Athouman told L’équipe.

“We are a small federation, a small country. We've worked hard to get to this point, so we're suffering more than others from these absences (five players).

“We do not have the ability to replace certain frameworks. We're very affected.”

He also disclosed that he had been in touch with Ajaccio boss Christian Leca, nevertheless, the situation remains the same.

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“[My meeting] went very well with him and he understood the situation,” he continued.

“For clubs that don't play anything, I thought we would let them come but no. I had (Fred) Legrand, the president of Guingamp, I was even ready to make sure that our player (Youssouf M'Changama) plays against Togo (Thursday) and we would have let him go afterwards.

“I would have lived up to my commitment. And that's where we're at. These are players who have given themselves for their selection. It breaks a player like that.”

As it stands, Comoros are second in Group G with eight points and a win in any of their last two outings would assure them of a place in the finals in Cameroon.