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Senegal, Watford At Loggerheads Over Sarr Release

Senegal could be without key winger Ismaila Sarr for the entirety of the team’s residential Africa Cup of Nation training camp and possibly for the tourney itself after the attacker’s club, English Premier League side Watford, failed to release him in time for the camp.

The Senegal Football Federation (FSF) stated on Saturday that the Hornets have stated that they won’t be releasing the highly-rated winger for the tournament that kick-off in Cameroon on 9 January.

Sarr’s absence will be a big blow to Teranga Lions hopes of bringing the elusive Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) title to Senegal.

“The English club Watford notified on the basis of spurious arguments its decision to block the player Ismaila Sarr, who has expressed his desire to join the Senegalese selection for the Cup of Nations,” said a statement signed by the Senegal Football Federation general secretary Victor Seh Cisse.

“The FSF responded immediately to confirm the player’s call-up and the club’s obligation to release the player by no later than January 3.”

Sarr’s predicament is against Annexe 1, Article 3 of the Regulations on the release of players to Association Teams, which obliges clubs to release their registered players to the representative teams of the country for which the players are eligible to play on the basis of their nationality if they are called up by the association concerned.

“The FSF wishes to express its deep condemnation of the disrespectful, pernicious and discriminatory behaviour of Watford who seek by all means to prevent a player from playing with his national team,” statement continued.

“Africa, its football and its footballers deserve the same respect as that accorded to other continents, confederations and players.

“The FSF will take all the necessary action to ensure that the basic right of its footballers to play for their country is respected,” it added.

Senegal are in Group B and open their campaign against Zimbabwe on January 10.

Senegal’s full squad for AFCON

Goalkeepers: Seny Dieng (Queens Park Rangers), Alfred Gomis (Stade Rennes), Edouard Mendy (Chelsea)

Defenders: Fode Ballo-Toure (AC Milan), Saliou Ciss (Nancy), Pape Abou Cisse (Olympiakos), Abdou Diallo (Paris Saint-Germain), Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli), Cheikhou Kouyate (Crystal Palace), Ibrahima Mbaye (Bologna), Bouna Sarr (Bayern Munich), Abdoulaye Seck (Antwerp)

Midfielders: Idrissa Gana Gueye (Paris Saint-Germain), Pape Gueye (Olympique Marseille), Joseph Lopy (Socahux), Mamadou Loum (Deportivo Alaves), Nampalys Mendy (Leicester City), Moustapha Name (Paris FC), Pape Matar Sarr (Metz)

Forwards: Keita Balde (Cagliari), Boulaye Dia (Villarreal), Famara Diedhiou (Alanayspor), Habib Diallo (Racing Strasbourg), Bamba Dieng (Olympique Marseille), Sadio Mane (Liverpool), Ismaila Sarr (Watford), Mame Baba Thiam (Kayserispor).


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