Ivory Coast confirm Yaya Toure’s return after three year absence

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Yaya Toure
Yaya Toure captained Ivory Coast to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations title

The Ivorian Football Federation (FIF) confirmed the return of Manchester City midfielder Yaya Toure to the Elephants squad for this month's friendlies in France.

The 34-year-old quit international football after leading his country to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations title, but reversed his decision in December.

Named in a 24-man squadexternal-link for fixtures against Togo on 24 March and then Moldova three days later, officials are excited about his return after a three year absence.

"The federation had a good discussion with Yaya Toure about the two friendlies and he gave his commitment to be in France before his inclusion," a top FIF official told BBC Sport.

"It's also a big boost for the team ahead of important qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations tournament.

"He loves his country and many people revere him for his contributions, we are just happy to have him back in the team again."

Under the guidance of Pep Guardiola, Toure has rarely featured in the Manchester City side, appearing in 13 matches in total this season and just six of them as a late substitute in the Premier League.

After making his international debut against Egypt in June 2004, Toure has gone on to win 100 caps for his country, scoring 19 goals.

In 2014 he took over the captain's armband following the retirement of star striker Didier Drogba.

He has played in six Nations Cup tournaments, suffering defeat in the final in 2006 and 2012, and appeared in three World Cups.

Toure captained his country to a first Africa Cup of Nations triumph since 1992 in Equatorial Guinea in February 2015.

However, in his absence Ivory Coast suffered an embarrassing group stage exit at the 2017 tournament and failed to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The faltering Elephants, who lost 3-2 at home to Guinea in their opening Group H encounter last June, will resume qualifiers for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in September with a trip to Rwanda.

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