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Zaha named in Cote d’Ivoire provisional AFCON 2017 squad

Zaha name in Cote d’Ivoire provisional AFCON 2017 squad

Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha has been named in Cote d’Ivoire’s provisional squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) beginning in January in Gabon.

Zaha’s inclusion follows his decision to switch international allegiance from England, where he grew up.

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The 24-year-old was born in Cote d’Ivoire but has two England caps, having played against Sweden in November 2012 and Scotland the following year.

As both were friendly matches, he was permitted to commit his international future to his country of birth.

The Africa Cup of Nation tournament, which starts on Jan. 14, could see Zaha miss up to six weeks of the season for Palace.

Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has also been called up to the 24-man squad by French coach Michel Dussuyer.

The coach also called up veteran forward Salomon Kalou, who was set to appear in his fifth Nations Cup.

“Gervinho’s absence out injured weighs down on us, for sure. But we have had several weeks to get used to the idea,” Dussuyer told reporters at a press conference in Abidjan.

“The arrival of Zaha is therefore great news. His profile is similar to Gervinho’s.’’

The defending champions have a training camp in Abu Dhabi starting on Jan. 2.

“One of the challenges facing us in camp will be that some of the players will be rested and others — those playing in England — will be tired and in need of some rest.’’

Cote d’Ivoire kick off the tournament against Togo on Jan. 16, before facing DR Congo and Morocco in the group stage.

Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohuo (TP Mazembe — DR Congo), Badra Sangare (AS Tanda — Ivory Coast), Mande Sayouba (Stabaek — Norway)

Defenders: Serge Aurier (PSG — France), Mamadou Bagayoko (St Trond VV — Belgium), Eric Bailly (Manchester United — England), Simon Deli (Slavia Prague — Czech Rep), Ousmane Diarrassouba (Adanaspor — Turkey)

Wilfried Kanon (ADO La Haye — Netherlands), Lamine Kone (Sunderland AFC — England), Adama Traore (FC Bale — Switzerland)

Midfielders: Victorien Angban (Grenade — Spain), Cheik Doukoure (FC Metz — France), Franck Kessie (Atalanta — Italy), Yao N’guessan (AS Nancy — France), Geoffroy Die (FC Bâle — Switzerland), Jean Seri (OGC Nice — France)
Forwards: Wilfried Bony (Stoke City FC — England), Max Gradel (Bournemouth — England), Salomon Kalou (Hertha Berlin — Germany), Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa — England)

Nicolas Pepe (Angers — France), Giovanni Sio (Stade Renne — France), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace — England