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Arnaud Djoum keen to keep playing for Cameroon despite Saudi move

Arnaud Djoum played for Cameroon at the recent Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt

Cameroon midfielder Arnaud Djoum wants to continue playing for Cameroon despite recently moving to Saudi Arabia, often considered a less competitive league.

The 30-year-old penned a two-year deal with Saudi outfit Al Raed after leaving Scottish side Hearts.

His new club finished eighth in Saudi Arabia’s Pro League under Albanian tactician Besnik Hasi last season.

Djoum is keen to carry on playing for the Indomitable Lions despite the fact that in the past players plying their trade in the Gulf have been side-lined from Cameroon’s national team.

“I want to continue playing for Cameroon and I will always be available to play for the Lions,” Djoum told BBC Sport.

“This is an interesting period of my career, I think I’ve got a lot of experience now and I can only improve.

“I didn’t come to Saudi Arabia for holidays or retirement. I’m a competitor and I want to play at a good level, discover new things and try to play at the highest level as possible.

“I want to play for a long time and I see this as a step in my career to progress.

“I had several offers from some good teams in Europe but Al Raed showed greater commitment.

“The club president travelled to Egypt to see me during the Africa Cup of Nations. He explained his vision to me and they presented the best offer.

“I saw there was a true desire to have me at the club and that spurred me to make this decision.”

Plenty of talent in Saudi Arabia

Djoum admits he was seduced by the talent in the Saudi Pro League, including former Swansea forward Bafetimbi Gomis, ex-Leicester winger Ahmed Musa as well as compatriot Leandre Tawamba, who scored 24 goals last season for Al-Tawoon.

And that has left him baffled by some of the perceptions around the Saudi League.

Cameroon celebrate winning the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations
Arnaud Djoum was part of the Cameroon squad that won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations

“The Saudi League is improving, you have some very good players and teams are well structured. Technically there are things you can learn from the championship,” Djoum added

“Before joining Al Raed, I spoke to a few players who used to be in Belgium but who are now in Saudi and they told me very good things about the championship. People think it’s not very competitive but that’s not true.

“The Algerian team that won the 2019 Africa Cup of nations had four players from the Saudi pro league and even Morocco had several players competing there. That says a lot about the quality of the championship.”

The former Roda JC player was a key part of Cameroon’s squad as they won the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

He made two appearances for the Indomitable Lions at the 2019 Nations Cup in Egypt where Cameroon failed to retain their crown, crashing out of the event in the round of 16 following a 3-2 defeat to Nigeria.

Djoum has now cast his gaze to the 2021 continental showpiece that will be hosted by Cameroon.

The former Belgian youth international hopes to stay in shape to clinch a spot in the team.

“Playing the Afcon at home is something special and every player will want to be part of it,” he insisted.

“I will do everything to be part of the team but it starts with my performance in my club.

“I will try to play the best football I can and be available for the national team. I will try to be ready and I hope my performance with my club will get me a spot in the team.

“I’m very excited. We won the Afcon in 2017 and it’ll be exciting to win again at home in 2021. We have to work hard and do a lot of things to be ready when the time comes.”

Djoum made his debut for Cameroon on 3 September 2016 in a 2-0 win over the Gambia in a 2017 Nations Cup qualifier. He went on to get 20 caps.

He clinched the 2014-2015 Polish league title while on the books of Lech Poznan.

 

BBC

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