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Asamoah Gyan and African players who retired from international football prematurely



Ghana legend Asamoah Gyan

Andre Onana

The latest in a long line of Cameroonian players to take their leave early from the national side, Onana’s collision with Rigobert Song during the World Cup – and his exclusion from camp after one game – proved the final straw for the stopper.

It’s a bitter loss for the Indomitable Lions, with Onana – currently Internazionale’s No. 1 – among the most prominent African goalkeepers in the world game.

Hakim Ziyech

Ziyech turned his back on his national side after the Africa Cup of Nations when he announced definitively that he had closed the door on a return to Morocco.

The playmaker was cut from Vahid Halilhodzic’s Atlas Lions squad ahead of the Nations Cup, and while Sofiane Boufal performed admirably as his stand-in, Ziyech was missed as Morocco were eliminated by Egypt in the quarter-final.

He returned to the fold under Walid Regragui, and proceeded to have a sterling World Cup as the Atlas Lions reached the semi-finals.

Asamoah Gyan

Gyan’s international retirement was certainly brief, with the striker calling time on his Ghana career in May 2019, only a month before the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, after being stripped of the Black Stars captaincy.

Less than 24 hours later, the striker had made a rapid u-turn on his decision, with Head of State Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo putting pressure on the forward to reverse his retirement.

Ultimately, the striker made just two substitute appearances at the tournament—including in the penalty defeat by Tunisia—and hasn’t played for the Black Stars since.

Victor Moses

The wideman retired from international football in August 2018, calling time on his six-year spell with the Super Eagles during which time he was an African champion under Stephen Keshi in 2013.

Moses also represented Nigeria in two World Cups—in 2014 and 2018—and was a Premier League winner with Chelsea in 2017.

There were calls for the versatile star, still only 31, to return to the fold ahead of the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, although a comeback did not materialise.

Odion Ighalo

Another Super Eagle who announced his retirement during Gernot Rohr’s tenure was Ighalo, who called time on his Nigeria career in the immediate aftermath of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

The striker still appeared to have a lot to offer, having won the Golden Boot at the Afcon after originally starting his international career relatively late in the day.

He retuned to the fold in late 2021, after being tempted back by Rohr, but was blocked from participating in the 2021 Afcon by his club side Al Shabab.

Victor Wanyama

Wanyama, at the age of only 30, retired from international football in late 2021 after being overlooked for Kenya’s provisional squad for last year’s World Cup qualifiers.

Jacob ‘Ghost’ Mulee also opted to cut the likes of Joash Onyango and Brian Mandela as he sought to look to the future, but the Harambee Stars ultimately missed out progression to the March playoffs.

Wanyama, surely, still had a lot to offer, and the FKF may well have regretted allowing Mulee to cut the experienced anchorman when they described him as a ‘rare gem’ upon his retirement.

Joel Matip

Matip could have taken his place alongside Michael Ngadeu-Ngadjui in the heart of Cameroon’s defence during the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations, had he not turned his back on the Indomitable Lions.

Unhappy with his treatment by the national side, Matip hasn’t turned out for the Lions since 2015, with Cameroon missing out on the services of one of Africa’s top defenders for his peak years.

As recently as October, sources with in the Cameroon camp told GOAL that they were still hoping to include Matip in their tournament plans, but ultimately, an agreement was not reached.



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