By Boris Esono Nwenfor
Ajax and Elephants of Ivory Coast forward Sebastien Haller has slammed the continues disrespect that is being shown towards the African continental showpiece, the Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON.
The UEFA Champions League top scorer told Dutch newspaper De Telegraaf “This question shows the disrespect for Africa” after clubs in Europe including FIFA has asked for the competition that comes up in January next year to be cancelled.
“Would this question ever get asked a European player ahead of the Euros? Of course, I am going to the Africa Cup of Nations,” Sebastien Haller said.
This tournament was supposed to be held in the summer but was postponed due to COVID. Of course, I will go o the AFCON to represent Ivory Coast. That is the highest honour.”.
The prospect of missing games for his club is, however, not far from the player’s mind and he says he hates having to choose between his club and country with high stakes at both ends.
“Of course, I would have liked to have taken the plane in between to be able to play against FC Utrecht and PSV, but that is simply impossible. This situation is very frustrating. I hate having to choose between my country and my club…,” Haller added.
“I play with Ajax for the title and those two matches are very important because they influence the rankings.”
Sebastien Haller is amongst 28 players that have been selected for the competition. The team also includes Manchester United’s Eric Bailly, Crystal Palace’s Wilfred Zaha, Sivasspor’s Max Gradel
Ivory Coast will be looking for a second AFCON title after winning it back in 2015. The team is lodged in Group E alongside defending champion Algeria, Equatorial Guinea and Sierra Leone.
Ivory Coast’s first game in the competition comes up on January 12 against Equatorial Guinea at the Japoma Stadium in Douala before facing Sierra Leone on January 16. The last group game comes up on January 20 against defending champion Algeria.
IVORY COAST SQUAD
Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo (Wolkite Ketema, Ethiopia), Badra Ali Sangare (JDR Stars, South Africa), Abdoul Karim Cisse (Asec Mimosas, Ivory Coast), Ira Eliezer Tape (San Pedro, Ivory Coast).
Defenders: Serge Aurier (Villarreal, Spain), Eric Bailly (Manchester United, England), Willy Boly (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Wilfried Kanon (Pyramids, Egypt), Odilon Kossounou (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Simon Deli (Adana Demirspor, Turkey), Ghislain Konan (Reims, France).
Midfielders: Habib Maiga (Metz, France), Maxwel Cornet (Burnley, England), Serey Die (Sion, Switzerland), Ibrahim Sangare (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Lazio, Italy), Franck Kessie (AC Milan, Italy), Hamed Traore and Jeremie Boga (both Sassuolo, Italy), Max Gradel (Sivasspor, Turkey), Jean Michael Seri (Fulham, England).
Forwards: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, England), Jean Evrard Kouassi (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal, England), Sebastien Haller (Ajax, Netherlands), Christian Kouame (Anderlecht, Belgium), Yohan Boli (Al-Rayyan, Qatar), Karim Konate (Asec Mimosas, Ivory Coast).