Andre-Frank Anguissa admits that leaving Napoli’s title defense midway through the season to join Cameroon’s Africa Cup of Nations squad was a difficult decision, but he has his club’s full support for the continental showpiece.
The club-versus-country debate has dominated the build-up to the 33rd edition of the African Cup of Nations, with certain players, such as Liverpool’s Joel Matip and Watford’s Emmanuel Dennis, opting out of the competition to aid their club campaigns.
Despite being a crucial figure in a Napoli side at a critical stage in their Serie A title drive, Zambo Anguissa revealed the club’s support for his international goals after Cameroon’s 2-1 AFCON triumph over Burkina Faso.
“It’s always delicate for a player to leave his team, but the club have to understand that the Africa Cup of Nations is an important thing when you’re an African player, and they have to respect that as well,” he told ESPN.
“Even though they know I’m a vital part of the team, the club didn’t have a problem with my case.”
Apart from Matip, Cameroon have previously been without the services of Andre Onana and Eric-Maxim Choupo Moting prior to their successful campaign at the 2017 Nations Cup, with both electing to stay with their clubs. They’re both on the current team.
Zambo Anguissa, on loan from Fulham, has made 14 appearances for the Partenopei so far this season, establishing himself as one of the division’s most effective midfielders as Luciano Spalletti’s team has had a solid start to the season.
He played in ten consecutive league games without a loss for the club as they started out to a fast start, but they had only three wins in their last ten league games, causing them to fall behind.
“[Napoli] are thinking more about what the AFCON means for me, so today I know that everyone at my club are there and supporting me,” he said. “Nonetheless, even though I’m over here, I continue to support them.
“Players who come [to the AFCON] or don’t come make their own decisions and must live with the consequences.”
On Sunday, Zambo Anguissa played 90 minutes as an unimpressive Cameroon won their Nations Cup opening due to two Vincent Aboubakar penalties in the final five minutes of the first half, canceling out a Gustavo Sangare opener.
“It was quite challenging,” Zambo Anguissa stated. “We knew it would be a tough game against a tough club, and you know it’ll be like that in Africa these days since there aren’t any small teams there. The three points are what we must take away from this; they will aid us in our future endeavors.
“We’ll keep working hard and using what we’ve learned to help us develop. We have a team that learns quickly, works hard, and enjoys playing together, so [our] preparations haven’t been easy. We’ll have to rely on our ‘fighting spirit’ to win our next game.”
On Thursday, Zambo Anguissa and Cameroon face Ethiopia in the AFCON, the same day Napoli take on Fiorentina in the Coppa Italia, before closing their group stage campaign against Cape Verde on Monday, the same evening the Partenopei take on Bologna in the top division.
Andre-Frank Anguissa admits that leaving Napoli’s title defense midway through the season to join Cameroon was a tough decision to make, not representing your country in the most celebrated tournament is even a tougher one to make.