For the eight players who refused the call to play for Cameroon this Afcon, they will regret that decision for life, says El-Hadj Diouf.
The former Senegal star is the latest to wonder how it is that so many key Indomitable Lions turned down the chance to represent their country, and now have to rue it as their colleagues stormed to an improbable title win in Gabon.
Liverpool’s Joe Matip, Schalke’s Eric Choupo-Moting and Allan Nyom are the most high profile of the lot, and Diouf had a word of advice – courtesy reggae legend Bob Marley – for them going forward.
“I don’t understand people turning down their country. And like the legend Bob Marley always said ‘if you don’t know where you come from, you don’t know where to go’,” he told the BBC.
The Indomitable Lions defeated the Black Stars 2-0 in last Thursday’s semifinal, and then went on to beat Egypt in a pulsating final in Libreville on Sunday.
Diouf, no stranger to European football having been regular in the UK for seven clubs, believes Africa must always be priority for these players based on the Old Continent. “Definitely they’ll regret not playing in the Cup of Nations. After your career, what are you going to do? Stay living in Europe? To do what?”
“It’s always tough to be African, because you can be the best African coach but they’ll never give you Paris St Germain (PSG), Barcelona, Liverpool or Manchester United.”
“That’s why I say to all the boys: don’t turn down your country because the future of this world is in Africa.”