Algeria and Nice launch conflict on the provision of players

Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi has strongly criticized Andy Delort’s choice to withdraw from the national team, as the Africa Cup kicks off in January in Cameroon. The coach, reigning champion, castigates the attitude in this case of OGC Nice, the Ligue 1 club where the striker is now playing.

Three months before CAN-2022 in Cameroon, the rag is already burning between European clubs and African selections. Algeria coach Djamel Belmadi has lit the first fuse around the case of Andy Delort, who wants to focus on his integration into his new Ligue 1 club, OGN Nice, rather than playing with the Fennecs.

The absence of the Nice striker in the list communicated by Djamel Belmadi, on October 2, for the two qualifying matches against Niger for the World Cup-2022 had surprised, while Delort has scored four goals since his arrival in Nice this summer.

“He was in this list (to play against Niger, editor’s note) as in all the lists since he became Algerian. De facto, he is no longer selectable. Maybe in a year, maybe with someone. another, I don’t know. Things are obvious to me anyway, “Djamel Belmadi commented annoyingly. “He sent me a message telling me that he wanted to put the national team on hold for a year. (…) I ended up having a discussion with him, I criticized him for taking such a decision. It was very heated, I told him that this is not the way to act. “

The reigning African champions easily did without the services of the neo-Niçois. They won their two encounters against Niger, scoring 10 goals and conceding just one, to sign their 30th and 31st consecutive unbeaten game.

Belmadi resentful

Known not to mince his words, Djamel Belmadi gave a layer, Thursday, October 14, on RMC Sports.

“It’s either big stupidity, or the nerve that has no limit. He talks to me about the competition in Nice but he does not accept that which there is in the national team”, notably dropped the breeder. “So we are going to play under 40th in Niger, in appalling conditions, we are going to hit each other all over Africa during a qualifying campaign which is a bit of a hell, and when everything is done, when everything is settled, the gentleman comes back like a little bride: ‘Is it okay I’m available now?’ This is doubly disrespecting us. “

Djamel Belmadi made it clear that he would no longer use the services of the Franco-Algerian striker while he was in post. Before this new exit from the Algerian coach, Andy Delort did not seek to apologize, simply asking for understanding.

“I will be 30 years old in two days and I am at a turning point: I have just arrived in a club where the requirements and the competition are much higher, I want to put all the chances on my side. I hope just that my choice will be understood, people know that I am a whole person, who always gives everything. This choice is important for me this season, but I am not retiring internationally “, simply commented Andy Delort in an interview with the Team.

The attitude of OGC Nice in question

“I told him that’s not how we do it, ‘you are dealing with a nation, a country that has opened its arms to you’. I blamed him and his club,” stormed the Algerian coach.

Because in addition to the attitude of the attacker, Djamel Belmadi especially targets his club, which he accuses of retaining his internationals. He claims to have spoken with Julien Fournier, sports director of the OGCN who, according to him, would advise his players not to go to the queen competition of Africa:

“I have it [répondu] : ‘On an ethical level, what you do is disgusting, you do not respect the countries, the selections and the African continent. If it’s only oral, you do whatever you want, but ethically I don’t like what you do ‘”, says the Algerian coach.

Nice would have tried to dissuade another Algerian international, the side Youcef Atal, but also Mario Lemina, Gabon international. According to the Algerian coach, the question also weighed in the discussions between the Aiglons and the Fennecs goal record holder, Islam Slimani, for a possible transfer during the summer.

“Slimani replied: ‘Not even in a dream’ (…) Everyone puts their love for their country at the cursor that they want”, congratulates Djamel Belmadi.

Towards a conflict between clubs and African selections?

Legally, clubs are obliged to release their players for international matches taking place on dates marked by Fifa. This is not the case for the Olympic Games, for example, and this is why several clubs, like OGC Nice, had refused to release the players called to play the Tokyo Olympics.

Despite this settlement, the question of the release of internationals resurfaces at each African Cup of Nations. Traditionally contested every two years in winter – with the exception of the 2019 break in the sweltering summer heat in Egypt – the competition often turns into a puzzle for clubs, in Ligue 1 in particular. In 2015, the French championship provided 52 players, 34 in 2017 and 86 in 2019.

Therefore, it is tempting for clubs to want to hold back the players by putting pressure on them. If Belmadi mentions an anti-CAN clause in certain contracts in Nice, the management firmly denies it.

The 2022 vintage in Cameroon will be no exception. Saint-Étienne, already dead last in Ligue 1, could lose half of his typical team. The same situation applies to Metz. All French formations are likely to lose one or two elements.

“If we are asked the question, obviously we prefer him to stay in Nice. Like most other clubs. But we have always shown the greatest respect for Africa and its selections, and Djamel Belmadi certainly speaks under the blow of anger. For the CAN, there is the problem of the calendar, but each player is free or not to go there. That’s up to them, “defended Julien Fournier in the Team.

The issue of the release of internationals has come back with insistence in recent months due to the Covid-19 pandemic. At each session of international matches, several clubs, starting with those of the English Premier League, drag their feet to free the internationals, due in particular to the quarantine constraints. With the arrival of the CAN, the standoff with the African selections has probably only just begun.


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