Napoli shut doors on African players

by Oviri Kelvin, Sports Editor, Abuja

Napoli President Aurelio De Laurentiis said the club will no longer sign African players over their non-availability during the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament.

He said the club will only sign an African player if he agrees to sign a waiver not to partake in the biennial continental tournament.

Africans in Napoli

“Either they sign a waiver giving up their right to participate in the African Cup of Nations tournaments or between the AFCON and the South American championships. I never have them available,” De Laurentiis said.

Recall that Cameroon hosted the last AFCON in January, with several African players from different European clubs featuring in the continental event that Senegal won for the first time.

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In Nigeria, Napoli striker Victor Osimhen was unavailable to feature for the Super Eagles in Cameroon after he was declared unfit following his recovery from a facial fracture he sustained from a collision with Milan Skriniar.

That Osimhen was indisposed for the Nigeria national team, Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly and Cameroonian midfielder Zambo Anguissa were unavailable for the Partinopei as they went to represent their country in the continental event. This resulted in the players’ absence from Luciano Spalletti’s selections during the time frame the tournament lasted.

Moreso, De Laurentiis’ frustration is not unconnected to the humiliating defeat Napoli suffered in Coppa Italia against Fiorentina where they were battered 5-2 with Hirving Lozano red-carded in the process at the Diego Armando Maradona stadium on January 13; Koulibaly and Anguissa at that time were already participating in the AFCON event.

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