AFCON winning coach slams Osimhen's club President for plans to sideline African players

De Laurentiis had earlier said he would only sign African players in the future if they signed a waiver saying they would not appear at the AFCON.

Aliou Cisse - Aurelio de Laurentiis

Coach Aliou Cisse of Senegal has 'asked' Napoli not to sign African players and has maintained that club obligations should never take precedence over international football events like the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON).

The AFCON 2021 winning manager made his remarks after Napoli owner and president Aurelio de Laurentiis declared that the Italian club would refrain from signing African players unless they consent to forgo participation in the biennial AFCON.

Due to the Nations Cup's usual January and February dates, European clubs have frequently been compelled to release players in the middle of the club football season.

Speaking to BBC Sport Africa, Cisse said: "A football player can play for 12 teams, say, but will only have one national team."

"Clubs will never be above our flag and our national teams. And every Senegalese who play in Europe, wherever he will be, if he is competent I will call him to defend the colours of the nation.

"When a Brazilian is needed by his federation, there is no debate. And yet we are five hours away from Europe. In South America, they are 17-18 hours away from Europe - but there is no debate.

"I have a lot of respect for (De Laurentiis) but I challenge them to try to not recruit African players," the centre-back said.

Cisse who has been in charge of Senegal since 2015, leading the Teranga Lions to back-to-back qualifications for the World Cup and a maiden AFCON title, added that African countries are being singled out by European clubs when their players are called up for international games.

"Why should the debate exist only when it comes to African players?" the Teranga Lion manager added.

"Clubs should discuss and share ideas with these players to find the best solution to help both national teams and clubs.

"Obviously, clubs are fearful about the Nations Cup, but it is important for our country and for our continent.

"I can understand, I am not shocked at all. But they can understand that when the nation is within its rights, we are allowed to call [up] our players.

"They can believe what they want but they should let us organise things as we want."

The Confederation of African Football (CAF), in an earlier statement said it was "appalled" by the "irresponsible and unacceptable remarks" made by De Laurentiis, and called on European counterpart UEFA to open a disciplinary investigation against the 73-year-old.

Before Senegalese defender Kalidou Koulibaly joined Chelsea last month, he spent eight years at Napoli. In response to De Laurentiis' remarks, Koulibaly said it is crucial to "respect everyone."

The former Napoli defender captained Senegal to triumph in the 2021 Nations Cup staged this year in Cameroon and missed six club games for the club alongside midfielder Andre-Frank Zambo Anguissa, who Cameroon called up.

Nigeria's Victor Osimhen was injured at the start of the competition, but returned to action for Napoli while the AFCON was still ongoing.