Football: England international Zaha named by Ivory Coast in Africa Cup of Nations squad

Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha was named by the Ivory Coast in a 24-man preliminary squad for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament.
Crystal Palace's Wilfried Zaha was named by the Ivory Coast in a 24-man preliminary squad for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament. PHOTO: REUTERS

ABIDJAN (REUTERS) - Wilfried Zaha was named on Wednesday by the Ivory Coast in a 24-man preliminary squad for the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, days after meeting England manager Gareth Southgate about his international future.

Zaha, who has won two caps in friendlies for England, features on a list of players to travel to Abu Dhabi next week to begin preparations for the tournament in Gabon, where the Ivorians are defending their continental title.

Southgate tried to persuade Zaha to commit his future to England at a meeting two days ago, the British media reported.

The 24-year-old, who was born in Abidjan, announced his intention to switch his allegiance to the Ivory Coast after meeting coach Michel Dussuyer last month.

The Ivorian Football Federation published a picture of the player meeting the coach and the federation president and posing with an Ivorian shirt.

The Crystal Palace winger played for England against Sweden and Scotland in November 2012 and August 2013 but remained eligible for the Ivory Coast because he had not represented England in a competitive fixture.

The Ivorians host a 10-day camp in Abu Dhabi after which they head to Oyem in Gabon where they are competing in Group C against the Democratic Republic of Congo, Morocco and Togo, starting on Jan 16.

The squad also includes Manchester United defender Eric Bailly, recently recovered from injury, and Stoke striker Wilfried Bony.