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“You cannot speak for African national teams like this”- Kaliduo Koulibaly hits back at Napoli President over his ‘not signing’ African players remarks

Napoli have had players miss games due to AFCON commitments, but Kalidou Koulibaly is dissatisfied with Aurelio De Laurentiis' plans.

Kalidou Koulibaly has slammed Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis’ plan to require new signings to agree not to play in the Africa Cup of Nations.

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On Tuesday, De Laurentiis proposed the contentious policy, stating that any African player who joins the Serie A club must agree to skip the tournament. It remains to be seen whether he follows through on the plan or whether it is enforceable. The next AFCON will be held in Ivory Coast in January 2024.

“I told them: lads, don’t talk to me about Africans anymore, I love them, but either they sign something confirming they’ll back out of playing the Africa Cup of Nations, or otherwise between that tournament, the World Cup qualifiers in South America, these players are never available!” De Laurentiis told a streamed event in quotes reported by Football Italia.

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Last season, Napoli were without Cameroon international Andre-Franck Zambo Anguissa and Senegal defender Koulibaly as they represented their countries in the January and February tournament, while Nigeria striker Victor Osimhen missed out due to injury. De Laurentiis’ remarks, according to Koulibaly, were out of line, and he claimed the views would not be shared by many others at the club.

“It’s up to him if he wanted to tell this, but for me the most important [thing] is to respect everybody,” Koulibaly told a news conference in London. “When I played there, I was playing also for Senegal, and I won the AFCON with Senegal when I was playing with Napoli. It’s true that it was a difficult moment for them when we went to AFCON, but we won it and I’m really happy today.”

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Kaliduo Koulibaly wants Napoli president Aurelio De Laurentiis to respect African countries just like any other European country

“You cannot speak for African national teams like this”- Kaliduo Koulibaly hits back at Napoli President over his ‘not signing’ African players remarks 2

While Napoli may have struggled for numbers without their African players, Luciano Spalletti’s team scored 13 points out of a possible 15 in their first five league games of the season. The only major disappointment was a mid-January Coppa Italia exit at the hands of Fiorentina.

Koulibaly added: “You cannot speak for African national teams like this, I think. You have to have respect, like you have for other national teams. As captain of Senegal, I think that this is not a good way to speak about African national teams.”

“But I respect what he thinks. If he thinks the team can play without African players, it’s up to him. But I think not everybody has the same idea as him at the club. I know that some people who are part of this society and team do not have the same idea as him. It’s not the idea of the society or the city, because the city is very respectful.”

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Sujeeth is a football writer at Firstsportz. His love for the beautiful game kicked off by watching mesmerizing Wengerball and has since been a Gunner by allegiance. He is a keen admirer of other sports particularly F1 and Basketball. Outside the world of sports, Sujeeth is pursuing his MBA in Finance from Mumbai University.