Joel Matip may well avoid being suspended for the duration of the AFCON tournament according to a report from the Liverpool Echo.
If you had to think to yourself about which Liverpool player would be the most likely to receive a lengthy suspension for whatever reason, I highly doubt Joel Matip’s name would be at the top of your list.
The Cameroonian centre-back joined Liverpool from Schalke on a free transfer in the summer and has turned out to be one of the biggest bargains in Premier League history. With the tall central defender in the team, Liverpool are yet to lose a game, a record lasting 14 games.
There is an issue, however. Isn’t there always? Matip has placed himself in a self-imposed exile from international football due to the lack of organisation in Cameroon’s national team setup and as such hasn’t played for his country since 2015 and isn’t showing any indication that he’ll be returning.
Matip excluded himself, despite numerous call-ups and a personal visit from national team boss Hugo Broos, from Cameroon’s African Cup of Nations squad. He is one of seven other Cameroon players who turned the opportunity to represent their country in Gabon next month.
Many people are painting these players as lacking a passion for their country and Fecafoot, Cameroon’s Football Federation, even went so far to say that his would-be squad members are putting self-interest before the obligation they have to their country. Fecafoot blasted the players for “putting their personal interest first to the detriment of the national team.”
Matip’s decision to turn down Cameroon’s call-up “due to a bad experience with the previous technical staff” was not received well and Hugo Broos plans on taking disciplinary action, saying in a statement that the “federation reserves the right to take action against these players in accordance with FIFA regulations.”
Although many have feared that this would include Matip but the Liverpool Echo are reporting that it won’t affect him as his self-imposed exile began long before the African Cup of Nations call-up came and it was always clear that he wasn’t going to appear for the Indomitable Lions in Gabon.
Despite missing a few games recently for Liverpool with a recurring ankle injury, Matip remains an integral part of Jurgen Klopp’s team and is key to any chances of a title challenge. Liverpool play Stoke City on the 27th of December and many hope to have the Cameroonian back for the game.