Wilfried Zaha’s decision to turn his back on England and instead represent the Ivory Coast (his birthplace) was one which brought its fair share of criticism on these shores but now, it sounds like certain voices over in Africa are casting doubt over the 26-year-old’s commitment to the cause.
The Palace winger pulled out of the recent international camp for “personal reasons”, prompting many to wonder aloud whether or not the truth was being stretched but now, members of Wilf’s entourage have hit back, giving an incredibly strong response to suggestions that he’s merely swerving the games through a lack of interest.
Speaking to the Abidjan Show, they said:
Wilfried is always motivated for his country. Only he could not play these two games because at the same time, he happened to have several urgent things to settle. He’s a boy who loves work and, contrary to what people say, he never boycotted anything.
“Even when one is an official or when one works privately (outside of football), it may happen that one asks permission from his superior to be absent to settle family issues or personal things. So, why when Wilfried excuses an absence, is it said that he boycotts the selection? Let people stop denigrating him because they do not know anything about him.”
No player should be expected to publicly disclose what their “personal reasons” for pulling out of international duty are but it’s clear that what was once an all-encompassing love affair between Zaha and his country is now starting to show cracks. The country’s performance at the African Cup of Nations left many supporters a tad deflated and with the best will in the world, I think it’s fair to say that Wilfried didn’t show the best of himself across the tournament.
Having watched the wide-man play week after week for close to a decade, I know that he will be as frustrated as anyone by he and his country’s showing this summer, with the aforementioned debate over his desire to wear the shirt almost certainly misplaced. Hopefully it doesn’t have too much of an impact on his state of mind going into this weekend’s clash away at Tottenham; with the team on the up after back-to-back wins, having our star man on top form could make all the difference at White Hart Lane.