Benjamin Moukandjo retirement a predictable setback for Clarence Seedorf's Cameroon
Benjamin Moukandjo's decision to retire from Cameroon duty is a damaging - and wholly predictable - setback for Clarence Seedorf's Indomitable Lions tenure.
The Beijing Renhe forward released a press statement on Saturday in which he confirmed that the new Dutch coach's actions and comments had pushed him to retire.
"I found the recent comments by Mr. Clarence Seedorf very brash and unfair," Moukandjo's statement began, as per BBC Sport.
"[It was] unfair because, despite being the team captain, I never received a call from the coach to inform me about his decision,"
Captain Moukandjo was one of several high-profile players - all of whom had played key roles in Cameroon's unlikely 2017 Africa Cup of Nations triumph in Gabon - to have been excluded by Seedorf because of where they play their football.
China-based duo Moukandjo and Christian Bassogog - the Player of the Tournament in 2017 - were overlooked along with midfielder Sebastien Siani, who plays for Al Jazira in the United Arab Emirates.
"Good young players don't compete in China or in Asia," Seedorf told journalists when he unveiled his maiden squad.
"Players must understand that if they go after more lucrative contracts, then they forfeit their chances of playing in the national team."
It's a decision - and an approach - which Moukandjo explicitly disagrees with.
"My real level and that of my other teammates should've been assessed on the pitch before the coach made his decision to sideline any player," the forward continued.
"I am proud of the time I spent with the Indomitable Lions and I would like to thank all my teammates who supported and trusted in me.
"I am convinced in all humility that I have accomplished my mission, living up to the expectations of my country," he added.
"I wish the team good luck for the next Africa Cup of Nations and I hope they will be able to win it for the honour of Cameroon."
Moukandjo's decision was wholly predictable, particularly following his revelation that Seedorf didn't even inform him that he wouldn't be considered for selection.
The attacker, with 55 caps and eight goals to his name, certainly deserved better from the incoming coach, even before considering the role he played in the 2017 AFCON success.
Indeed, the forward's set-piece delivery, leadership, and the quiet yet effective role he played off the field in uniting a previously disparate group of players were admirable, and should have ensured that he received more delicate treatment from the Dutchman.
Moukandjo, at 29, certainly still has a lot to offer, and could have been a key player for the national side as they attempted to defend their title on home soil next summer.
He's in fine form this season, with six goals in 13 Chinese Super League games, and demonstrated his consistently in the French top flight with 13 goals in each of his last two seasons with FC Lorient.
Whether Seedorf had intended to ultimately recall him or not, Moukandjo's decision threatens to undermine his time in charge - a tenure that began with an unconvincing 1-1 draw away at Comoros.
His mishandling of Moukandjo, as well as comments after that match when he told the federation that the mach had been a "positive" experience further fuel the sense that the former AC Milan and Real Madrid midfielder is out of touch.
Seedorf's decision to overlook Moukandjo vs. the Comoros has now ultimately denied him a potential match-winner, and one who could have proved decisive during the AFCON.
It also threatens to send ripples through the squad, particularly considering the role that he played in forging squad unity.
Cameroon have been short on identity, continuity and stability in recent years, while Moukandjo's calm composure offered an antidote for the team's leadership vacuum.
His step away from the international scene weakens Cameroon, and represents an early setback for Seedorf's tenure. It was all so avoidable.