Drogba recalled to Ivory Coast squad

BY foxsports • February 4, 2011

Didier Drogba returned to Ivory Coast's squad for the first time since the 2010 World Cup on Friday ahead of next week's friendly against Mali.

Striker Drogba was named in a 22-man squad by Ivory Coast coach Francois Zahoui for the game against Mali in Valence, France, on Tuesday.

Elsewhere, Ghana will again be without midfielder Michael Essien for its friendly against Togo and South African pair Katlego Mphela and Teko Modise were left out of the Bafana Bafana squad for a game against Kenya after they failed to turn up for training with their clubs.

The 32-year-old Drogba returns having last played for his country in the 3-0 win over North Korea last June, Ivory Coast's final game at the World Cup.

He was rested for the start of the Ivorians' 2012 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign, where the Elephants top their qualifying group with two wins from two games ahead of a home match vs. Benin on March 26.

Fellow Chelsea forward Salomon Kalou, Manchester City defender Kolo Toure and Arsenal defender Emmanuel Eboue were also included for the Mali game at Valence's Georges Pompidou Stadium.

Ivory Coast has won 13 and lost just one of its 20 previous matches against Mali.

While Essien is again missing for Ghana as coach Goran Stevanovic announced his first squad for a friendly vs. Togo in Antwerp, Belgium, midfielders Sulley Muntari and Derek Boateng return for the first time since the World Cup quarterfinals last year.

The coach will also be without injured AC Milan midfielder Kevin-Prince Boateng for his first game in charge.

Essien was given a break from international football by Ghana after he missed the World Cup with a knee injury - his second serious knee injury while playing for his country.

Blackpool goalkeeper Richard Kingston, Fulham defender John Pantsil, Marseille midfielder Andre Ayew and Partizan Belgrade strike pair Prince Tagoe and Dominic Adiyiah are all named. Uncapped Ernest Sowah, a goalkeeper for Berekum Chelsea, is the only Ghana-based player in the 19-man squad to play the Hawks of Togo.

With a win and a draw so far in their campaign, the Black Stars are away to Congo in their next Cup of Nations qualifier. Ghana recently took over from Egypt as the highest-ranked African team at No. 15 in FIFA's list.

Striker Mphela and midfielder Modise were left out of South Africa's squad for Wednesday's home friendly against Kenya after they both broke club rules.

Mphela, a World Cup regular with Bafana, angered club Mamelodi Sundowns when he failed to show at training, while Modise was transferred from Soweto giant Orlando Pirates to Sundowns because of his absence.

"We had to take a good stand and send a strong message that discipline at clubs should be maintained and brought to Bafana Bafana," South Africa coach Pitso Mosimane said, "hence some of the familiar faces are not in this squad. We do not encourage a behavior where players miss training or matches for whatever reason."

Mosimane named Tottenham pair Steven Pienaar and Bongani Khumalo and Portsmouth's Aaron Mokoena in his 24-man group for the Kenya game - which was a late replacement for Burkina Faso - at Rustenburg's Royal Bafokeng World Cup stadium.

South Africa faces an African Cup qualifying showdown with Egypt next month.

Surprise-package Botswana, which tops its Cup of Nations qualifying group ahead of Tunisia and Togo, travels for a friendly in Mozambique on Tuesday.

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