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Crystal Palace star Zaha set for Ivory Coast debut

Abidjan (AFP) – Flying Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha looks set to make his Ivory Coast debut after he was named in their final 23-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

The 24-year-old is among several Premier League stars included by coach Michel Dussuyer for the January 14-February 5 tournament in Gabon, where the Ivory Coast are defending champions and among the favourites to retain their crown.

Dussuyer last week named a 24-man provisional squad and it is defender Ousmane Viera, who plays in Turkey, who misses out.

England manager Gareth Southgate had urged Zaha, who was born in Abidjan but appeared in two friendlies for England under former boss Roy Hodgson, to stick with the country where he grew up.

But the former Manchester United man ignored that and now looks set to play a major part in Gabon after pledging his allegiance to the Ivory Coast in November.

Missing for the Ivory Coast is captain Gervinho, who is out injured, but Dussuyer can still call upon an array of European-based players, among them defender Eric Bailly (Manchester United), Serge Aurier (PSG), Salomon Kalou (Hertha Berlin) and Wilfried Bony (on loan at Stoke City from Manchester City).

Ivory Coast are playing Sweden in a friendly on Sunday and Uganda three days later.

At the Nations Cup, Ivory Coast play Togo on January 16 in their opening match followed by Democratic Republic of Congo and Morocco.

Ivory Coast squad:

Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo (Mazembe/DRC), Mande Sayouba (Stabaek/NOR), Ali Badra Sangare (Tanda/CIV)

Defenders: Eric Bailly (Manchester United/ENG), Serge Aurier (Paris SG/FRA), Simon Deli (Slavia Prague/CZE), Wilfried Kanon (The Hague/NED), Lamine Kone (Sunderland/ENG), Adama Traore (Basel/SUI), Bagayoko Mamadou (St-Truiden/BEL)

Midfielders: Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel/SUI), Victorien Angban (Granada/ESP), Cheick Doukoure (Metz/FRA), Franck Kessie (Atalanta/ITA), Serge N’Guessan (Nancy/FRA), Jean-Michael Seri (Nice/FRA)

Attackers: Wilfried Bony (Stoke City/ENG), Max Gradel (Bournemouth/ENG), Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa/ENG), Giovanni Sio (Rennes/FRA), Salomon Kalou (Hertha Berlin/GER), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace/ENG), Nicolas Pepe (Angers/FRA)

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