Ivory Coast, winners of the 2015 African Cup of Nations, has called up recently retired Kolo Toure and Boubacar Barry to hand them one final go in front of the home fans.
The pair retired from international play following the Cup victory, but have accepted call-ups for friendlies against Angola and Equatorial Guinea, both home matches at the Stade Felix Houphouët-Boigny in Abidjan, the country’s largest city.
Toure and Barry won’t be the only ones celebrating, however. The entire 23-man squad used in the Cup run was called up by coach Herve Renard, as the federation announced it would use the pair of friendlies to parade its victorious squad and commemorate the triumph.
34-year-old Liverpool defender Toure played every single minute of the country’s cup run, totaling 570 minutes and scoring a goal in the penalty shootout in the finals. Barry saved a pair of Ghanan penalties in the shootout, including one off the feet of Anderlecht’s Frank Acheampong with his country down 2-0 early, and another to set up the winning penalty – which he also took and scored – to win it at 9-8. They both retired after the win, but will be celebrated in the friendlies this week.
The country will enjoy the sendoff, but it marks a time of transition for the national team, but they have positioned the squad to re-tool well. Toure and Barry will be gone, and Yaya Toure is aging as well. A number of important players in their prime will look to step up and fill the leadership void, such as Wilfried Bony, Salomon Kalou, Seydou Doumbia, and Gervinho could see bigger leadership roles, while 22-year-old Serge Aurier could look to stake his claim as one of the country’s next big stars.