Watford remain relaxed about the prospect of Allan Nyom missing the game with Manchester United if, and it’s a big if, the Cameroon Football Association decide to invoke a rule that allows them to prevent him playing for his club this weekend.
Judging by quotes coming out of Africa, Nyom is at the centre of a dispute with his adopted country after he, they report, refused to travel to Niger from Paris with the squad for back-to-back World Cup qualifiers. It is said that Nyom opted against travelling because his club, who pay his wages, claim they had not received, in writing, confirmation he had been called for international duty.
“This guy has been called three times consecutively,” Cameroon’s interim manager Alexandre Belinga is reported to have told CRTV National Post. “It is at the same address as notices went.”
All correspondence is sent to Gayle Vowels, the club’s football secretary, although some past correspondence is believed to have reached her via a slightly circuitous route.
“We are in Paris at the time of boarding and [Nyom] tells us he can not board because its leaders believe that the summons has not arrived,” continued Belinga. “By the time he left us we are already at the airport Wednesday. He explained that his English employers had argued that no notice had been sent to Watford.”
This news “surprised the administrators of the national team”, according to Vincent de Paul Atangana, head of Cameroon’s communications.
Nyom, 27, was at the club’s training ground in London Colney on Monday and was one of the last senior players to leave. The word from the club’s training HQ is that Nyom trained with his countrymen in Paris for two days last week before the parties went in opposite directions in a separation described as “amicable”. However, it is hard to see Cameroon happily releasing their uninjured right-back, who has been one of the stars of the Premier League season so far, back to his club while they headed off for two important qualifiers in their bid to reach the 2018 World Cup in Russia.
Fifa rules state that: “A player who has been called up by his association for one of its representative teams is, unless otherwise agreed by the relevant association, not entitled to play for the club… during the period for which he has been released or should have been released. This restriction on playing for the club shall, moreover, be prolonged by five days in the event that the player, for whatsoever reason, did not wish to or was unable to comply with the call-up.”
Nyom missed the last two games of the scheduled international break, against Nigeria and Congo in October, with an ongoing knee problem which required him to have an injection in London. Richard Collinge, the club’s head of medical, consulted with his Cameroon counterparts on that issue.
“He took a knock to his knee [against Bournemouth] and he’s been managing a knee injury for three weeks,” Collinge told Hornets Player in October. “We’ve had to be cautious with him. We chatted to the Cameroon national team doctor and… we needed this opportunity to get on top of that [injury]. We make sure we liaise appropriately and a build rapport as we want the best for player, as do the national team. I’m liaising with physios and national team doctors all round the world, even before the international break, to make sure that a player is treated appropriately.”
Cameroon are in a state of turmoil after they fired their coach, Volke Finke, at the end of last month. Finke had been in charge for two-and-a-half years. Alex Song, Nyom’s friend, announced his retirement from international football earlier this year to concentrate on his club career. With a young family and only a few months into a four-year contract, Nyom may opt to do the same.
For the record, Cameroon won the first leg, against Niger, 3-0, on Friday and drew the second, 0-0, yesterday to book their place in Round Three of the qualification process next year.