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Africa Cup of Nations

Eto’o hits out at De Laurentiis: Napoli can't stop Cameroon's Anguissa from Africa Cup of Nations

20:00 BST 20/08/2022
Samuel Eto'o
The Fecafoot boss feels the Napoli owner went overboard by claiming he will no longer sign stars from the continent unless they agree to avoid Afcon

Cameroon FA boss Samuel Eto’o has told Napoli president Aurelio de Laurentiis that he has no powers to stop players from featuring in the Africa Cup of Nations.

De Laurentiis had earlier this month said he will avoid signing African players unless they agree to a clause that bars them from linking up with their national teams for the biennial tournament.

"Enough of African players, or they should give up playing in the African Cup of Nations. I won't be buying them anymore for this reason," said De Laurentiis.

His sentiments were not received well across the world with many feeling the Italian’s comments undermine not only the tournament but also African players and now Eto’o has also weighed in on the matter.

“He has my player in his team Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa and if Rigobert Song [Cameroon coach] calls him to the national team, the Napoli president will have nothing to say,” Eto’o responded during an interview with Ghana One TV.

“It will not be possible to stop him [Anguissa]. It is only the player who can decide not to come and must give a reason. Otherwise, we have the authority to call any player,” he added.

Midfielder Anguissa and Senegal captain Kalidou Koulibaly, who has since moved to Chelsea, missed six Napoli games while on international duty at the 2021 Afcon in Cameroon which took place in January and February.

Meanwhile, Eto’o has backed Senegal forward Sadio Mane to win the 2022 Ballon d’Or award, despite France and Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema seen as the overwhelming favourite.

“Right now, the best African player in the world is Sadio Mane. I think he will win the next Ballon d’Or,” said Eto’o, making his choice from the four Ballon d’Or nominees from Africa that also includes Egyptian Mohamed Salah, Riyad Mahrez of Algeria and Ivorian striker Sebastien Haller.

The four-time African Player of the Year, who is on a promotional tour to countries that qualified for the 2022 World Cup on the continent, has also not ruled out an African nation going all the way in Qatar.

“It is possible in 2022 because it is only seven games. People at times think it is 200 games,” said the former Barcelona and Inter Milan striker.

He added: “In 2010, Ghana were very close so that means it is very possible. Football is all about details when you have enough time to learn. I believe every African country will go there with the mindset to win just like the others.”

Cameroon, Ghana, Senegal, Morocco and Tunisia will be Africa’s representatives in Qatar. No African country has gone beyond the quarter-finals at the World Cup with Cameroon, Ghana and Senegal the only nations to have reached the last eight.