Joel Matip has turned down a return to Cameroon. The Liverpool centre-back won’t play at AFCON 2021.
Cameroon coach Toni Conceicao has confirmed that Joel Matip rejected an international return. There had been some hope that the player would reverse his 2016 decision to retire.
Matip fell out with the previous regime in charge of his country’s national team. So much so that he hasn’t featured for Cameroon since 2015, despite attempts to call him up.
Conceicao attempted to bring the 30-year-old back but has ultimately failed.
“The situation of Matip is not new,” he said, per the BBC.
“There are players who wanted to come back to the national team. For me, there is no need to enlist a player who is not ready to return.
“Matip does not want to return to the national team, that is the issue”.
Matip rejects Cameroon
Bad for Cameroon but unquestionably positive for Liverpool.
Matip is coming back from a serious injury, after all, and adding international games to his schedule would have been a real risk. Especially as he’s now 30 and hasn’t played consistent international football for six years.
For an already injury-prone player, those international breaks are vital as recovery time. And that’s not even the only positive.
AFCON 2021 happens in January, after all. Cameroon host the competition, too, and Matip would have been there for a month.
Liverpool will already lose Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Naby Keita. Throw in Joel Matip and it’s easy to see how they could run into problems.
Overall, AFCON shouldn’t affect Liverpool too much, all things considered. But it will lead to exhaustion for some and Matip is one of the last players in this squad who should battle that.
This is certainly positive for Liverpool, then. Hopefully, Matip can focus on having a fully-fit season.