FRANCEVILLE, Gabon — Veteran Tunisia midfielder Adel Chedli walked out on his squad at the African Cup of Nations on Wednesday after failing to play in any of its three games. He later claimed he was being treated "like a kid."
Team spokesman Ward Zouhair told The Associated Press that Chedli "wasn't happy" at not playing and left Tunisia's base in Franceville four days before the team's quarterfinal.
Zouhair said the 35-year-old Chedli, who won the African Cup with Tunisia in 2004, was returning home and would not take any further part in the tournament.
"Once a player decides he is not happy and wants to go home, you can't do anything about it," Zouhair said.
Chedli told French radio station RMC later Wednesday he decided to leave of his own accord after his relationship with coach Sami Trabelsi broke down.
"I've been through everything with this team and I even played with the current coach (Trabelsi)," Chedli told RMC. "I had a certain stature within the team but over time this stature became nothing, there was no longer any respect from the coach despite my positive attitude in training and outside of training.
"Things got worse, there was no longer any communication with the coach. Being a substitute isn't a problem, but I'm 35 and I shouldn't be treated like a 20-year-old kid."
Zouhair said there was no problem with Chedli during Tuesday's 1-0 loss to Gabon at Stade de Franceville despite reports he was sent to the stands by Trabelsi after becoming angry that he wasn't in the team.
Chedli was even left out when Trabelsi made a host of changes for the game against Gabon after the team had already qualified for the last eight.
Chedli became the second player to exit the tournament in 24 hours, after Clifford Mulenga was expelled from Zambia's squad on Tuesday and sent home for breaking a curfew and showing no remorse. Two other Zambia players, who had also stayed out late, apologized and were allowed to stay with the squad.
Tunisia plays its quarterfinal in Franceville on Sunday. Zambia faces Sudan in the last eight on Saturday.
AP Sports Writer Jerome Pugmire in Paris contributed to this report.