After insisting that Liverpool defender Joel Matip report for international duty ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations and threatening to ask FIFA to sanction him if he failed to comply, Cameroon has finally given up the ghost by not naming him in their 23-man squad.
A notable absentee despite all the hubbub over the last couple of months, the Indomitable Lions will go to Gabon without a player considered to be one of their best — something that should have been planning for. Matip, for his part, hasn’t played for his country in over a year and started making it clear as early as September that he would not return to the fold and would instead focus on his club duties.
“It’s not an easy decision but I want to concentrate on Liverpool,” said the 25-year old when asked about his decision. “I want to be here,” continued Matip, keen to knock back any suggestion that he may have been on the verge of changing his mind. “I want to focus on Liverpool and that’s what I had to decide. I think I took the right decision.”
The Reds, for their part, were under the impression that Matip had retired from international duty before he completed the move from the German side Schalke 04 over the summer on a free transfer. One of seven players who chose not to represent Cameroon, the defender is now free to represent Liverpool while the AFCON goes on without the threat of a sanction from FIFA hanging over his head — that is, if they can get him fit. A persistent ankle problem has kept him out of action and though it’s a bit too early to say for sure, it’s unlikely he’d be risked when League Two side Plymouth Argyle visit Anfield in the FA Cup this weekend.