Ntcham has big call to make af­ter sign­ing new Celtic deal

Belfast Telegraph - - SPORT - BY GAVIN McCAFFERTY BY MATT SLATER

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

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