Cote d’Ivoire face a battle to have exciting winger Wilfried Zaha in their team as new England boss Gareth Southgate says he wants to have a chat with the player about staying with the Three Lions.
Born in Abidjan, Zaha moved to England at a young age and played for the country’s youth teams. He also got two caps with the senior team, but both were friendlies and he has not been called since 2013.
With his chances with England far from rosy, the 24-year-old opted to switch allegiance to the country of his birth, but now the recently-appointed Southgate, who coached Zaha in the England U-21 team, wants to see if he can keep him.
We are still hopeful that we can speak to Wilf. Southgate said.
He is a player I have obviously worked with. At the time, I had him with the U-21s. The first few months he played very well for us… then he had a difficult period for his club.
He had a loan spell at Cardiff that did not go so well and at the stage we had players like Tom Ince, who was performing better in the Championship out wide for us, so he dipped out of that group.
Then obviously over the last couple of years, with respect, no-one was questioning him not being in our squad last summer (at the European Championships).
Meanwhile the vice-president of the Ivoirian Football Federation Malick Tohe is confident that Zaha will choose the Elephants because they currently have just as high a profile as England.
Ivory Coast is valued, the national team is always at the World Cup, we won the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations. Players know it is a good team to play with. Tohe told the BBC.
Explaining how they wooed the Crystal Palace star, Tohe said: “We told him ‘you have two options and in the past maybe England was the better option but now they are more or less the same
Zaha was born in Ivory Coast, he will be joining the African champions… there is the same exposure for Ivory Coast as for the England team.