Bissouma, second flight with the Eagles of Mali

For the opening of its tournament, Mali challenges Tunisia this Wednesday at the Limbé stadium. But while the Eagles arrive at this CAN with great ambitions, they will also be able to count on the return, as if nothing had happened, from Brighton midfielder Yves Bissouma, absent from the selection for more than three years for ” personal reasons ” .

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October 16, 2018. When leaving the Burundian lawn on which he had just honored his eighteenth cape, Yves Bissouma probably did not think he was not going to put on the Malian jersey for an eternity. Due to a lack of communication, the one who was recently voted player of the year at Brighton has long preferred to sulk in his corner rather than return to the selection, until it clicked last summer.

Frying on the line

Because yes, the absence of Bissouma is nothing more than a story of whim gone wrong. As he finally revealed after long months of silence, it all started with a shoulder operation that prevented him from playing the last CAN. “It was one of the most difficult times of my life. I spent thirteen hours in a coma and almost died in my hospital bed. Even the doctors were in panic, told the 25-year-old at the end of August 2021 in the reference Malian talkshow 4-4-2 on RP Médias. But during this period, I did not receive any message from a leader or the coach. ” Bissouma also took the opportunity that day to accuse coach Mohamed Magassouba of turning supporters against him by summoning him to each rally to better force him to decline.

An icebreaker speech, since in the wake, Magassouba had positioned himself in favor of his return, and this, while the player had just criticized the entire staff. Good atmosphere. To make matters worse for him, the midfielder was charged with sexual assault in Brighton last October. Doubly damaging since at the time he had to carry out his come-back for the World Cup qualifiers. While the investigation is ongoing, the former Lille has finally received the authorization by the British police to go to Cameroon. It nonetheless remains at the heart of a climate not conducive to good performances, even if it is still popular with fans.

Beware of graft rejection

But then why take Bissouma for the CAN? Well when we know that Mali has never done better than a final lost in 1972, despite another golden generation at the end of the 2000s with Frédéric Kanouté, Seydou Keita or Mahamadou Diarra, it is difficult to imagine the selection deprive itself of one of its best elements. Especially since the one who discovered Mali at thirteen years by joining the Academy of Jean-Marc Guillou in Bamako has in fact already proven his attachment to the Eagles. “I have dual nationality. I could play with Ivory Coast [son pays natal]. Gervinho and the late Sidy Diallo asked me, but I declined the offer because I was waiting for my summons to play with the Eagles, revealed Bissouma on RP Médias. I am Malian, I love Mali. ”

Not sure, however, that this is enough to integrate without disturbing a Malian machine that runs very well without it. At its post, Mali already has a well-stocked pool between the boss Haïdara of Leipzig, Samassékou and the young understudy Mohamed Camara. Qualified easily for this CAN, and more recently for the 2022 World Cup play-offs by having preserved their clean sheet during the six qualifying matches, the Malians are advancing with defensive certainties. And if the solid Bissouma can boast of being the only Premier League player to have made more than 150 tackles and interceptions combined last season, the self-proclaimed best midfielder in England will also have to assume his status. It is up to him to defend his place from the first match against Tunisia, if he wants to avoid a rejection of graft in the Eagles.

By Gabriel Joly

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