Joel Matip will not be travelling to the African Cup of Nations and will not be facing any sanctions for the same. The Cameroon defender was not selected for the final squad of the national team as they prepare for the tournament and can continue playing for the Reds while AFCON is on.
The former Schalke man was one of seven international players who had stated that they did not want to play in the tournament and Matip had even made it clear that he would not be participating in the African championship in September earlier this year.
Hugo Broos, the Cameroon manager, nevertheless put Matip’s name in the initial Cameroon squad for the tournament. The governing body for the nation had even warned Matip that he could have faced disciplinary actions from FIFA had the Liverpool man decided to skip the tournament.
Relief for the Reds as Matip is free to play
There will be a lot of fans breathing easily now seeing that Matip is given the clear to participate in Liverpool’s matches during the period of the tournament. Even though Sadio Mane has left the side to join Senegal, the Cameroon man had put himself in exile from the national team.
Matip had not played for over a year in the national colours as he stated that the treatment meted out by the technical staff had been a poor experience.
While Cameroon expected FIFA to sanction the player, the 25-year-old central defender had also stated that he wanted to concentrate on his career with Liverpool, whom he joined on a free transfer from Schalke earlier in the season.
“It’s not an easy decision but I want to concentrate on Liverpool. I want to be here,” Matip said, as quoted by the Echo.
“I want to focus on Liverpool and that’s what I had to decide. I think I took the right decision.”
While the former Bundesliga man has been one of the best players in the Liverpool side, he is currently nursing an ankle injury and has missed a number of games in the Christmas and New Year period.
Ragnar Klavan has done a decent enough job for the Reds but the sooner Matip comes back in the side, the better the stability at the back will be. The 25-year-old could be the difference for the side as they look to close the gap on Chelsea at the top of the table.