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African footballers show little interest in representing their country

990   //    06 Mar 2012, 17:34 IST

Liberian and Africa football legend, George Weah has left a huge mark on the football field in his playing career that spanned 14 years in top flight football.

The former AC Milan striker won titles in France with Monaco and Paris Saint Germain before decamping to AC Milan for a four-year stint that earned him the European Footballer of the Year and FIFA World Player of the Year in 1995 among the other many titles. He is also remembered for the role he played in helping his country make a mark on the continent and on the world football stage.

He led Liberia’s golden generation of Christopher Wreh, James Debbah and Co to the CAF Africa Cup of Nations in 1996 and after retiring from football, Weah coached and single-handedly financed the Liberian national team, The Lone Star, in its unsuccessful bid to qualify for the 2002 FIFA World Cup. The team missed out closely on qualifying for the WC and during the campaign and even before as a player, George financed the team’s travel, accommodation and other expenses.

That was George Weah and it was back then in the day when patriotism and national pride had a special place in the sportsmen hearts.

Not any more as it has been exemplified by a number of African top players playing for the top clubs in Europe in the last few months!

Before African Cup of Nations kicked off in Gabon and Equatorial Guinea earlier this year, in the absence of giants like Cameroon, Nigeria and Egypt, the Elephants of Cote d’Ivoire that had in their ranks players like Didier Drogba and Yaya Toure were billed as the tournament favourites.

While the team was dethroned in the finals by minnows Zambia, it is now a matter of conjecture whether some of the players in the Elephants squad like Yaya Toure gave their all, as he for instance occasionally play through the pain of injury for his club Manchester City every other weekend and mid-week.

Furthermore, Yaya who was substituted in the finals, (can he play that bad for City to warrant a sub in a final match for the club?) expressed his reservation of turning for the national team in future after the tournament so that he can concentrate on playing for Manchester City.

“We will see whether I carry on,” he told the Sunday Mirror. “I have to think about what is best for me, for my club and for my country. I love playing for Ivory Coast so it is not an easy thing to think about.

“Maybe if we had won against Zambia things would have been easier for me. The disappointment is big at the moment so I will wait until I have a clear mind before deciding what to do.”

Back in November last year, Kevin Prince Boateng  retired from Ghanaian national team, the Black Stars so that he would “remain healthy and stay off any injuries”.

Boating explained in his letter to Ghana FA that he had consulted his doctors and family over the matter and has decided to take the decision to excuse himself from national duties.

The news was a blow for Ghana because the midfielder who had won nine caps after switching his nationality from German had become a mainstay in the team, which was eventually bundled out of the African Cup of Nations in the semis. The AC Milan midfielder got injured in January, on the eve of CAN kick-off and was out of action for the entire period of the tournament.

And come February 29, Kenya had also to contend with the absence of MacDonald Mariga when Harambee Stars faced Togo in Nairobi during the crucial 2013 CAN qualifiers. The Inter Milan ace who is on loan to his former club Parma refused to play for the national team after arriving in town until the football federation cleared all his previous travelling arrears owed to him amounting to Sh 1.2million ($14,000).

Mariga had paid for his air ticket four times in the past when coming for national duty but due to the change in administration, the new officials who were voted in in November last year could not be able to pay the money since the dethroned office had not handed over the records. The new board was eventually was not able to make the midfielder change his mind.

Togo coach Didier Six was expecting Emmanuel Adebayor to join the team in Nairobi for the WC qualifier match to be played on Wednesday 29th, February.

Six who had told the media on the previous day that Ade would arrive that evening  but he  later had to tell  Reuters the following day that he will have to play without the striker.

“It’s always a question mark with Manu. It looks like we’ll have to do without him,” Six said in a French radio interview ahead of the first round, first leg match in Nairobi.

“It is not a crisis without him.

“This period is a bit tricky. He had a big game with Tottenham against Arsenal on Sunday. There is another very quickly, against Manchester United,” added the former France international.

Togo team lost 2-1 to Kenya and had Adebayor popped up in Nairobi, maybe the result would have been different.

These are just a few examples of how African players plying their trade in Europe are showing little regard for their national teams at the expense of their clubs, which of course butters their bread. But why do African players behave like this when their counterparts from Europe are even ready to sweat blood just to don the colours of the national?

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