Ntcham has big call to make after signing new Celtic deal
OLIVIER Ntcham will take his time before deciding if he will switch international allegiances from France to Cameroon.
The 22-year-old midfielder was born in Longjumeau, France to parents of Cameroon descent and has represented France at youth level from Under-16s to Under-21s.
After signing a new contract with Celtic which will keep him at the Parkhead club until at least 2022, Ntcham revealed that Cameroon have made contact but that he was in no hurry to make up his mind.
Cameroon manager Clarence Seedorf is looking to build his Indomitable Lions squad for next year’s African Cup of Nations.
Ntcham, sidelined with a hamstring injury at the moment, said: “When you make an important decision like that you have to take your time. I want to take (my) time.
“I am playing for France now. We have a tournament at the end of this season (Under-21s Euro Championships in Italy) so that is what I am focused on.
“I am focused on the pitch and if I have to make a decision I will speak with my family and agent.”
The 22-year-old French midfielder joined the Hoops in July last year from Manchester City, after a two-year loan spell at Italian club Genoa.
He revealed how he coped with interest from Portuguese club Porto in the summer, saying: “I just focused on the pitch. Everything about that was for my agent and family.
“I came here last season and everything was new for me, I had to look around and speak to the manager and get to know him a little bit more.
“I won my first trophy here so I was really happy for that and we made the decision to stay here.”
Ntcham is “delighted” to have signed a new deal with the Scottish champions and admitted that Celtic’s dramatic 2-1 Europa League win over RB Leipzig at Parkhead on Thursday night vindicated his decision to continue his career with the Glasgow club and believes they can qualify for the knockout stages of the tournament.
Brendan Rodgers’ side have six points after four Group B fixtures but are behind the Bundesliga club on goal difference with an inferior head-to-head.
With maximum points from their first four games, Austrian outfit Salzburg look almost certain to win the group and they have to travel to Parkhead on match day six, after Celtic have taken on bottom side Rosenborg in Trondheim.
Ntcham said: “When I watched the RB Leipzig game I was really proud of my team and we won in the end so I was very happy.
“I expect Celtic to qualify for the knockout stages because I think we can challenge RB Leipzig and Salzburg. I want to score more goals than last year, I want to win more trophies and go far in the Europa League.”
Livingston manager Gary Holt, meanwhile, insists his side are more than capable of continuing their rich vein of form against the Ladbrokes Premiership’s leading teams by beating Celtic tomorrow.
The top-flight newcomers have already beaten Rangers and Hibernian at the Tony Macaroni Arena, and have held leaders Hearts to a draw at Tynecastle.
The Lions were beaten at Parkhead on the opening day of the new campaign when Holt’s predecessor Kenny Miller was in charge, but the current boss, whose team are looking to bounce back from successive losses to St Johnstone and Hamilton, insists they will not be intimidated by the free-scoring Hoops.
He said: “It’s about being bold, brave. If you go in with fear they’ll never play. I want big players to go and get the ball. Our fans will expect us to go out and have a go.
“We’ll press them when we can, I believe we’ll create chances but it’s about whether we’re good enough to take them on the day.
“We’ve already experienced it because we had the Rangers game on Sky Sports in September, what the whole make-up of the day looks like, the occasion, and they embraced it and that’s what we want.
“We know they can do it, it’s no different from Hibs or Hearts, it’s about being brave. Go out and be positive and work your socks off.” THE French Football Federation (FFF) has asked its independent ethics body to investigate allegations that scouts at Paris St Germain tried to limit the number of black players at their academy.
The French website Mediapart reported that some of the French champions’ scouts were recording the ‘origins’ of young players they were assessing on an electronic scouting form.
According to the report, there were four options to describe a player on a drop-down menu — French, north African, black African or West Indian — and it was reported that this was done because PSG’s former chief scout in France, Marc Westerloppe, told colleagues “there is a problem with the direction of this club... there are too many West Indians and Africans in Paris”.
Racial profiling is illegal in France but Mediapart claims scouts at the club were using this system between 2013 and spring of this year.
A spokesman for PSG said that the club opened an investigation into the allegations as soon as they were made aware of them by Mediapart three weeks ago.
“We are talking about one recruiting unit with a manager who put that in place from 2013 until 2017, without our knowledge,” he said, before adding “all these people have left” the club.
But if this was an attempt to keep the investigation in-house it has failed, as an FFF statement on its website yesterday said it had asked its National Council of Ethics to examine the case.
If found guilty of racist recruitment practices, the matter will be sent to the Professional Football League’s disciplinary committee to decide on a punishment.
Weigh it up: Olivier Ntcham will taketime to decide his internationalfuture