Despite his move to the Saudi Pro League which is regarded as a less competitive league, Cameroon midfielder Arnaud Sutchuin Djoum is still keen to play with the Indomitable Lions of Cameroon.
Djoum moved to Al Raed on a two year contract from Scottish Premiership club Hearts of Midlothian.
The 30 year old hard working midfielder hopes to be considered for selection despite the fact that Indomitable Lions coaches have often if not always overlooked players playing their professional football in the Gulf. Leandre Tawamba Kana, Sebastien Siani and Adolf Teikeu are the most recent victims.
“I want to continue playing for Cameroon and I will always be available to play for the Lions,” he told BBC Sports.
“This is an interesting period of my career, I think I’ve got a lot of experience now and I can only improve.
“I didn’t come to Saudi Arabia for holiday or for retirement. I’m a competitor and I want to play at a good level, discover new things and try to play at the highest level as possible.
“I want to play for a long time and I see this as a step in my career to progress.
“I had several offers from some good teams in Europe but Al Raed showed greater commitment.
“The Club President traveled to Egypt to see me during the Africa Cup of Nations. He explained his vision to me and they presented the best offer.
“I saw there was a true desire to have me at the club and that spurred me to make this decision.”
The player went on to give an assessment of the Saudi Pro League.
“The Saudi League is improving, you have some very good players and teams are well structured.
Technically there are things you can learn from the championship,” the midfielder added.
“Before joining Al Raed I spoke to a few players who use to be in Belgium but who are now in Saudi and they told me very good things about the championship. People think it’s not very competitive but that’s not true.
“The Algerian team that won the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations had four players from the Saudi Pro League and even Morocco had several players competing there. That says a lot about the quality of the championship.”
This declarations from the former Hearts midfielder could be interpreted as a call to be considered for Cameroon’s 2021 AFCON campaign which is scheduled to be hosted by Cameroon 49 years since they lastly hosted the tournament.
“Playing the AFCON at home is something special and every player will want to be part of it,” he pointed out.
“I will do everything to be part of the team but it starts with my performance with my club.
“I will try to play the best football I can and be available for the national team. I will try to be ready and hope my performances with my club will get me a spot in the team.
“I am very excited. We won the AFCON in 2017 and it’ll be exciting to win at home again in 2021. We have to work hard and do a lot of things to be ready when the time comes.”
The midfielder clearly nurses the ambition to play in the 2021 AFCON in Cameroon. It should be noted that though players plying their trade in the gulf have often been overlooked by Cameroon, they are often selected by top African nations and have delivered. Algeria’s goal scorer in the 2019 AFCON finals Baghdad Bounedjah was a torn in the flesh of every defense that Algeria faced in the competition.
Morocco’s Mbark Boussoufa and Nigeria’s Ahmed Musa are a few other examples of good performers at the AFCON from the Gulf Nations.
Leandre Tawamba of Al Tawoon would have been a potent goal source for Cameroon given his wonderful goal scoring season (24 goals) for his club, compared to Jacques Zoua from Astra Giurgui in Romania with one goal in 15 games all season. Sebastien Siani was an ever present with top performances with Al Jazira, he too was penalized by the prejudicial judgement of the pedigree of his league instead of his performances, though he was an integral part of Cameroon’s 2017 AFCON winning campaign in Gabon.
Arnaud Djoum is a former player of FC Brussels, Anderlecht, Roda JC, Akhisar Belediyespor and Lech Poznan before joining Hearts in 2015 where he made 110 league appearances scoring 14 goals.
He won the Polish league with Lech Poznan in 2015.
Djoum who was born in Yaoundé began his international career with Belgium’s youth teams. He made four appearances for Belgium’s U-19 and one for their U-20 national teams.
He made his international debut for Cameroon in 2-0 win against Gambia in a qualification game for the 2017 AFCON, and was part of the team that lifted the trophy in Gabon.
He has won 22 caps for Cameroon including two games in their unimpressive 2019 AFCON title defense in Egypt.