Four English Premier League players have been included in Ivory Coast squad for the upcoming 2021 Africa Cup of Nations due January 9 to February 6 2022 in Cameroon.
The four players in head coach Patrice Beaumelle’s final 28-man squad are Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Willy Boly (Wolves), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace) and Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal).
The return of Zaha is a huge boost for the Elephants after the winger reportedly asked not to be included in November’s World Cup qualifiers.
Jean Michael Seri of Championship side Fulham is the other English based player in the squad but Man United winger Amad Diallo has not made the cut due to limited playing time.
Four Italy-based players have made the team – Franck Kessie (AC Milan), Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Lazio) and Sasuolo duo Hamed Traore and Jeremie Boga.
Ivory Coast are pitted in Group E along with title holders Algeria, West African neighbours Sierra Leone and Equatorial Guinea.
There is no Gervinho Kouassi who has been ruled out because of an injury.
The 2015 AFCON winning players including Serey Die Geoffroy, Eric Bertrand Bailly, Max Alain Gradel and Serge Aurier have all been named in the final squad. The others are Jean Daniel Akpa-Akpro, Wilfried Kanon and goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo who was second choice at that time.
Ivory Coast will bank on Ajax star and UEFA Champions League leading top scorer Sebastien Haller.
Ivory Coast will be going for their third AFCON title after emerging champions in 1992 and 2015. They settled for Silver in 2006 and 2012.
They were beaten by eventual champions Algeria 4-3 in shootouts at the Quarterfinals during the 2019 AFCON tournament in Egypt.
Ivory Coast squad for 2021 AFCON
Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo (Wolkite Ketema, Ethiopia), Badra Ali Sangare (JDR Stars, South Africa), Abdoul Karim Cisse (Asec Mimosas, Ivory Coast), Ira Eliezer Tape (San Pedro, Ivory Coast).
Defenders: Serge Aurier (Villarreal, Spain), Eric Bailly (Manchester United, England), Willy Boly (Wolverhampton Wanderers, England), Wilfried Kanon (Pyramids, Egypt), Odilon Kossounou (Bayer Leverkusen, Germany), Simon Deli (Adana Demirspor, Turkey), Ghislain Konan (Reims, France).
Midfielders: Habib Maiga (Metz, France), Maxwel Cornet (Burnley, England), Serey Die (Sion, Switzerland), Ibrahim Sangare (PSV Eindhoven, Netherlands), Jean-Daniel Akpa Akpro (Lazio, Italy), Franck Kessie (AC Milan, Italy), Hamed Traore and Jeremie Boga (both Sassuolo, Italy), Max Gradel (Sivasspor, Turkey), Jean Michael Seri (Fulham, England).
Forwards: Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace, England), Jean Evrard Kouassi (Trabzonspor, Turkey), Nicolas Pepe (Arsenal, England), Sebastien Haller (Ajax, Netherlands), Christian Kouame (Anderlecht, Belgium), Yohan Boli (Al-Rayyan, Qatar), Karim Konate (Asec Mimosas, Ivory Coast).
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