Emerse Faé revamps Côte d’Ivoire squad ahead of crucial World Cup qualifiers


Côte d’Ivoire’s coach, Emerse Faé, has made a significant shake-up to his squad for the upcoming 2026 World Cup qualifiers against Gabon and Kenya.

In a bold move, Faé has introduced five new players, including three from Ligue 1, as he looks to build on the Elephants’ recent success at the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and secure a spot in the World Cup finals in the USA, Canada, and Mexico.

Côte d’Ivoire, currently leading Group F alongside Gabon with six points, will host the Panthers in Korhogo on 7 June before traveling to Nairobi for a crucial encounter with Kenya four days later.

The double-header represents a pivotal moment in their qualification campaign, and Faé’s decision to inject fresh talent into the squad reflects his ambition to maintain the momentum from their AFCON triumph.

Among the newcomers is Nice striker Evann Guessand, who has earned his first senior call-up alongside Le Havre left-back Christopher Operi and Lorient forward Mohamed Bamba. Both Guessand and Bamba have experience at the youth level for France, adding a blend of youth and international experience to the Ivorian squad.

Mohamed Diomande from Rangers, who previously played for the Côte d’Ivoire Under-23 team, and Middlesbrough striker Emmanuel Latte Lath also join the squad, rounding out the quintet of uncapped players making their debut.

The inclusion of these new faces signifies a strategic shift as Faé aims to blend fresh talent with experienced campaigners. Notably, Guessand and Bamba’s presence is expected to add a new dimension to the attack, while Operi’s defensive skills will bolster the backline. Diomande and Latte Lath provide additional depth and options for the team.

While the new call-ups have garnered much attention, the squad also sees the return of Rennes midfielder Guela Doue, who played a key role with a crucial goal against Uruguay in March. However, the team will be missing some of their stalwarts from the AFCON-winning squad.

Captain Serge Aurier and defender Eric Bailly are notably absent due to a lack of game time at their respective clubs. Other omissions include Ibrahim Sangare, Karim Konate, Christian Kouame, and Jean Krasso.

Despite discussions with Galatasaray winger Wilfried Zaha about a potential return, he has not been included in the 26-man squad.

Despite these changes, several star players remain central to Faé’s plans. Key figures like Franck Kessie, Sebastien Haller, Evan N’Dicka, Seko Fofana, and Yahia Fofana provide the backbone of the team, ensuring a blend of stability and experience as they aim for maximum points in their upcoming fixtures.

Faé’s revamped squad demonstrates a forward-thinking approach, balancing the introduction of new talent with the retention of seasoned players. With Côte d’Ivoire poised at the top of Group F, securing victories against Gabon and Kenya could be decisive in their bid for World Cup qualification.

Here is the full squad list for the crucial matches:


Yahia Fofana (Angers)

Badra Ali (Sekhukhune)

Mohamed Koné (Dunkirk)


Willy Boly (Nottingham Forest)

Christopher Operi (Le Havre)

Ousmane Diomande (Sporting)

Odilon Kossounou (Leverkusen)

Evan Ndicka (Roma)

Ghislain Konan (Al-Fayha)

Guela Doue (Rennes)

Wilfried Singo (Monaco)

Emmanuel Agbadou (Reims)


Mohamed Diomande (Rangers)

Franck Kessie (Al-Ahli)

Jean Michael Seri (Hull)

Seko Fofana (Al Ettifaq)

Lazare Amani (Union SG)

Habib Traore (Napoli)


Mohamed Bamba (Lorient)

Sebastien Haller (Dortmund)

Evan Guessand (Nice)

Oumar Diakite (Reims)

Jeremie Boga (Nice)

Nicolas Pepe (Trabzonspor)

Simon Adingra (Brighton)

Emmanuel Latte Lath (Middlesbrough)

With this blend of new talent and experienced players, Côte d’Ivoire looks set to make a strong push for World Cup qualification.

Photo: CAF Online

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