While the CAN will begin, several European players with dual nationality will play the competition. A love affair with their country of origin… or of opportunism.
In July 2018, the Blues won the FIFA World Cup. A very "African" French team, which has in its ranks seven players with dual nationality. But while most of the players have parents from African countries, in reality only two of them were born outside France: Samuel Umtiti, born in Cameroon, and Steve Mandanda, born in the Democratic Republic of the Congo.
Despite everything, several players could have chosen to serve other national teams. As was the case for Riyad Mahrez. Born in Sarcelles, the Franco-Algerian was trained in his home town, then in Brittany. In 2014, by going into exile in Leicester, the Algerian decided to wear the colors of Algeria. Unlike many footballers who have decided to play for the original selection of their parents, Mahrez has never played in the youth categories of the France team.
Franco-Algerians who lean for the Fennecs
This is because binationality allows many footballers to choose the national colors they want to defend. They can even change their minds, as long as they have not played in the national A team, in an official match. While some choose their adopted country - Umtiti, Desailly and Makélélé for example - others prefer to turn to Africa to hope to play in international competitions. This is the case of Abdou Diallo, Sébastien Haller, Maxwell Cornet or Sofiane Feghouli, who never hoped to play for the France team. Other opportunists also take advantage of foreign ascendants to taste the joys of a World Cup or CAN: thus, Jérémy Morel and Andy Delort have discovered their Malagasy and Algerian nationalities.
But for others, it is the choice of the heart that predominates: Mahrez could have considered wearing the blue jersey. The player assures us that his choice was easy: "I could also have chosen France, but in memory of my father and of my attachment to Algeria, I decided to wear the jersey of the Greens", assures- he does. They are ultimately few to have made such a strong choice. But Algeria seems to be an exception: young nuggets from PSG, Oufella, Saïdani and Hussayn, have decided to play for Algeria in the coming years. Nancy Mehenni and Valenciennois Aymen Boutouatou also.
Consequence: this gives African teams amazing statistics. Indeed, few players are trained in the country whose colors they wear. In 2018, three players from Morocco had been trained in the kingdom. It was a little more for Senegal and Tunisia, with thirteen players trained in their country.
On the other hand, love for their home country is important to other players. Thus, Karim Benzema and Nabil Fékir may wear the French jersey or have worn it, they do not hide their attachment to Algeria. The two players will certainly be supporters of the Fennecs during this CAN 2021.