The Elephants Arrive Today
By Sylvester Worwee
Africa’s champions, the Elephants of Ivory Coast arrive in Liberia today ahead for the crunchy World Cup qualifier with Liberia.
The Elephants, which have been training at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, since Monday, will jet in aboard a special chartered flight from Abidjan and are expected to land by 8:30 PM tonight at the Roberts International Airport in margibi County.
However, the Ivoirians will arrive in the country without several of their key players. France-born coach Michel Dussuyer had to invite Assalé Roger of TP Mazembe and Arthur Boka of Malaga after Salomon Kalou, Wilfried Bony and Thomas Touré were forced out through injuries.
Manchester City star and fourth consecutive African Footballer of the Year winner, Yaya Toure name was also omitted from the 24-man roster released by Coach Dussuyer for Friday’s first leg slated for the Antoinette Tubman Stadium in Monrovia.
Toure was a key figure in the Elephants squad that won the Africa Cup of Nations last February in Equatorial Guinea, but he has resisted the physical exertions of travelling to and from Africa since, missing the start of the Nations Cup defense; a drab 0-0 draw away to Sierra Leone.
Bony hasn’t played for the Ivory Coast since a dramatic penalty shootout win over Ghana in the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals at the Estadio de Bata in Equatorial Guinea on February 8, 2015.
Bony scored two headers, one from a Max Gradel cross and the second from a Yaya Toure’s free kick in the Elephants 3-1 quarter-final win over Algeria in Malabo.
Bony who turns 27 on December 10, was named in the squad to face Sierra Leone in a 2017 Afcon qualifier on September 6 in Lagos, Nigeria but pulled-out due to injury.
The Full Squad
Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo of TP Mazembe - DR Congo, Ali Badra Sangare of Asec Mimosas - Côte d’Ivoire and Mande Sayouba of Stabaek - Norway.
Defenders: Serge Aurier of Paris Saint Germain – France, Mamadou Bagayoko of KV St Truidense – Belgium, Eric Bailly of Villarreal – Spain, Simon Deli of Slavia Prague - Czech Republic, Arthur Boka of Malaga – Spain, Constant Djakpa of Eintracht Frankfurt – Germany, Lamine Kone of FC Lorient - France and Ousmane Viera of Rizespor - Turkey.
Midfielders: VictorienAngban of KV St Truidense – Belgium, Jean Daniel Akpa Akpro of Toulouse – France, Ismaël Diomande of St Etienne – France, Serge Yao N’guessan of AFAD - Côte d’Ivoire, Geoffrey Serey Die of Stuttgart – Germany and Jean Michaël Seri of Nice - France.
Strikers: Seydou Doumbia of CSKA Moscow - Russia, Gervinho of AS Roma - Italy, Cyriac Bi Gohi of KV Oostende - Belgium, Giovanni Sio of Stade Rennais – France and Assalé Roger of TP Mazembe.