Wilfried Zaha has been included in the Ivory Coast squad for the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON), just a month after Patrice Beaumelle, the manager, said the forward wanted to “reflect on the rest of his international career.”
Zaha was not called up by Ivory Coast for November’s World Cup qualifiers, with Beaumelle saying the Crystal Palace star “asked not to come”.
But Zaha denied his manager’s claims, insisting last month that he “never said that I am reconsidering my international future” and that playing for Ivory Coast “is an honour that I never, ever take for granted”.
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Zaha went on to explain his absence from the World Cup qualifiers was due to a “viral infection” and that he had asked Beaumelle for permission to miss the games.
Zaha’s return is a boost for Ivory Coast as they bid to win the AFCON for the third time, following success in 1992 and 2015.
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Ivory Coast are in Group E, along with Sierra Leone, Equatorial Guinea and Algeria, the defending champions.
Zaha is joined in the squad by a number of other England-based players, including Manchester United’s Eric Bailly, Burnley’s Maxwel Cornet, Wolves’ Willy Boly, Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe and Fulham’s Jean Michael Seri.
But there is no place for Amad Diallo, who has made just one appearance for United this season.
Beaumelle said in August he wanted the 19-year-old winger to leave Old Trafford on loan to get more playing time.
The Africa Cup of Nations is scheduled to take place in Cameroon between January 9 and February 6, with all 52 matches to be shown live on Sky Sports.
AFCON will go ahead as planned, says CAF president
The rearranged Africa Cup of Nations will go ahead as scheduled next month in Cameroon, says Confederation of African Football president Patrice Motsepe.
A meeting was held between Motsepe and Cameroon president Paul Biya amid concerns over the threat of coronavirus outbreaks due to the Omicron variant.
Africa’s football showpiece, usually held every two years, was scheduled to be played last summer but was postponed because of the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m going to be here on January 7 and I’m coming to watch football,” Motsepe said on Tuesday.
“I’m coming to watch on January 9 (the opening match between) Cameroon against Burkina Faso. I’ll also be around to see when the trophy is handed over.”
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