Everton star Abdoulaye Doucouré will not be with Mali for the AFCON 2023. The midfielder has confirmed his decision to stay with his club during this period. It seems more unlikely than ever that he will ever pull on a Malian shirt again.
If there was still hope for some supporters that he would change his mind, this time they’ll have to face the facts: the page has been turned for good between Abdoulaye Doucouré and Mali. Called up for the first time for the national team in the 2022 World Cup play-off against Tunisia, the midfielder has not pulled on an Eagles jersey since. While at the start of the season he announced that he was taking a “break” from the national team, the Everton player has definitively closed the file on his participation in the AFCON 2023.
Asked about a possible return to the national team to take part in the competition in January, Abdoulaye Doucouré replied bluntly: “No, for the moment, I don’t think I’ll be taking part in the Africa Cup of Nations, to be honest (…) I think I’ll stay here in an Everton shirt. I don’t want to go. It’s not a very big decision because I’ve only taken part in the Mali national team’s training camp once.”
“I have the utmost respect for my country, but… “
This was enough to douse the last hopes of fans who saw the Everton midfielder reconsider his choice and strengthen the team ahead of the African Cup of Nations. All the more so as the former Rennes and Watford man has been at his best since the start of the season, with 3 goals in 11 Premier League games. But for him, the objective lies elsewhere, and he is clearly still carrying the scars of his first experience in the national team, which he admitted he didn’t particularly enjoy. “I really want to concentrate on my career and the club.I have every respect for my country, but I’m going to stay here,” concluded Abdoulaye Doucouré.
A choice decried by some national team supporters, while others see it as merely the end of Abdoulaye Doucouré’s brief stint with Mali, despite the fact that he has just extended his contract with Everton until 2025, with a pay rise to match.
It’s no coincidence, then, that he’s chosen to put himself fully at the service of his club. It remains to be seen what coach Eric Chelle’s reaction will be to this seemingly definitive choice.