Manchester United manager, Jose Mourinho, has disclosed that the Ivorian football federation turned down the club’s request to delay the release of their defender, Eric Bailly, for national assignment.
Bailly is due to join the Elephants – reigning African champions – as they prepare for the defence of their African Cup of Nations in Gabon later this month.
“Bailly is leaving – he goes to the national team,” Mourinho told the club’s website. “He has to be with them on 2 January. We asked them for him to be on 3 January but they refused, so he cannot play against West Ham.
Bailly is leaving – he goes to the national team,” Mourinho told the club's website. “He has to be with them on 2 January. We asked them for him to be on 3 January but they refused, so he cannot play against West Ham.
On his plans without the Ivorian, Mourinho said, “I know that I lose Bailly for a month and I’m going to have Smalling, Rojo and Jones for, I think, eight matches. So I decided to play Eric [against Middlesbrough] and it was good to have him on the pitch because, one-on-one at the back, he’s the best because he’s very fast.’‘
Ivorian coach Michel Dussuyer, names a provisional 24-man squad which includes the defender and Crystal Palace winger Wilfred Zaha. Also called is veteran forward Salomon Kalou, who is set to appear in his fifth Nations Cup and PSG defender Serge Aurier.
Ivory Coast, which is the defending champions, will however be without its captain Gervinho who was ruled out of the tournament after he suffered a serious knee injury. The elephants have a training camp in Abu Dhabi starting on 2 January.
The west African nation has lined up two friendly matches against Sweden on January 8 and Uganda, three days later. The final list of the 23 players will be named on January 4th ahead of the tournament which will kick off in Gabon on 14 January.
The AFCON groups
GROUP A – Gabon, Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Guinea Bissau
GROUP B – Algeria, Tunisia, Senegal, Zimbabwe
GROUP C – Ivory Coast, DR Congo, Morocco and Togo.
GROUP D – Ghana, Mali, Egypt, Uganda