Didier Ndong is expected back in England and will play no part in Gabon’s World Cup qualifier tonight.
Reports indicate that the Sunderland midfielder departed the Gabonese camp amidst a bust up over who would be captain for the country’s pair of qualifying fixtures against the Ivory Coast.
Gabon were defeated by three-goals-to-nil in the first of the brace of games with neither Ndong or his Black Cats teammate, Ivorian Lamine Kone, featuring.
No explanation appears to have been forthcoming about why the latter was not in the squad for the first game but Kone has since declared himself fit for tonight’s game.
This recent bust-up featuring Sunderland record signing Ndong is merely the latest in a sequence of fall-outs which continues to mar Gabonese football.
The 23-year-old is understood to have been unhappy at interference from the Gabon sports minister into the squad selection for this round of international fixtures. Ndong was captain in recent games but coach José Antonio Camacho has supposedly been pressured to hand the armband to Cardiff City defender Bruno Ecuele Manga instead.
Reports suggest Ndong walked out of the Gabonese camp and is unlikely to return anytime soon after a series of issues on international duty.
The player was sent home last November after missing a training session ahead of a World Cup qualifier. Ndong later issued an apology claiming he had been celebrating the birth of his daughter. Before that was another outburst upon being substituted in a match against Morocco and back in 2015 he was missing from the Gabon side citing ‘tiredness’.
Gabon has long-standing issues within its football set-up, in part fuelled by the economic and social tension with the African country itself, but also divisions within the international camp caused by favouritism, political influence and accusations of racism.
From a Sunderland perspective, from suspecting the club were set to lose their record signing on deadline day amidst suggestions Ndong was up for sale; the midfielder will be available for selection to face Sheffield United this weekend presumably refreshed from having a break and free from injury.