Elephants Down Sweden

Wilfried Zaha came off the bench to provide the decisive cross on his Ivory Coast debut as they beat Sweden 2-1 in their African Cup of Nations warm-up friendly.

Having been snubbed by Roy Hodgson, current Crystal Palace manager Sam Allardyce, and then Gareth Southgate, Zaha switched allegiance to the country of his birth – Ivory Coast – and was called up to their squad for the upcoming African Cup of Nations.

The former England international has taken to his new international environment like a duck to water. Introduced at the break, Zaha provided the perfect cross for Giovanni Sio to head home a 50th minute winner for the Elephants.

An own goal from Wilfried Kanon had Sweden ahead in the 42nd minute as he botched an attempted clearance of Nicklas Barkroth’s cross but Yao Serge Nguessan equalised on the stroke of half-time.

It was against Sweden that Zaha made what was ultimately an ill-fated start to his England career in 2012.

Then starring in the Championship with the Eagles he came on for Raheem Sterling as the Three Lions helped played the inaugural fixture at the Friends Arena in Stockholm.

Zaha’s second international bow was also notable for the Sweden debut of AIK starlet Alexander Isak. The 17-year-old striker has been linked with a move to Real Madrid, with Everton also apparently interested.

The Ivorians have been preparing for the Nations Cup in the United Arab Emirates. They have one more warm-up game against Uganda before the tournament starts next weekend.

They will be heading to Gabon on Thursday and play their opening Group C game on January 16 against Togo.

 

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