African Cup of Nations hosts Ivory Coast has revealed its final 27-man squad ahead of hosting the tournament next month.
Notably missing from the squad is Galatasaray winger Wilfred Zaha. The former Crystal Palace star has barely featured for the Elephants since the turn of the year, featuring in only two friendlies. In the course of his absence, he missed AFCON qualifiers and last month's first round of World Cup qualifying.
Another player missing on the list is Bournemouth midfielder Hamed Junior Traoré, due to an infection he picked during his last visit, as was revealed exclusively by Afrik-foot about a week ago.
Striker Sébastien Haller of Borussia Dortmund and Brighton winger Simon Adingra have both been included in the squad as well, despite both players still nursing some injury concerns and with no assurance that they would be fit enough even to play in front of their home fans. “I'm willing to take the risk for a player like him (to include him among the final 27) because he's a leader. I believe he's the real Ivory Coast striker. When you decide to trust a man like him, you can go all the way,” said Gasset, who specifically maintained he has “high hopes” of having Haller back in time for the tournament.
Pépé's Big Return
Also worthy of note is the surprising return of winger Nicolas Pépé who has been putting up a decent shift for Trabzonspor lately. Winger Jérémie Boga joins regulars like Serge Aurier, Seko Fofana, Franck Kessié, Ibrahim Sangaré, Jonathan Bamba, Evan Nicka, and captain Max-Alain Gradel.
The Elephants will continue with preparations with a friendly match against Sierra Leone billed for January 6. They play in Group A alongside Nigeria, Guinea-Bissau, and Equatorial Guinea.