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REUTERS - Didier Drogba is to return to the Ivory Coast national team next week for the first time since the country's calamitous African Nations Cup finals performance at the start of the year.
The veteran striker has been named in a 23-man squad for a friendly against Mexico in New York next Wednesday, for the first time since the tournament in South Africa where the Ivorians were runaway favourites but were bundled out in the quarter-final by eventual winners Nigeria.
Drogba, for so long a talismanic figure for the Elephants, was dropped for the first time during the tournament and coach Sabri Lamouchi then left him out of World Cup qualifiers in March and June, all the while deflecting speculation of a rift with his captain by claiming the 35-year-old needed to work on his fitness and would return.
Drogba, still hoping to make a third successive World Cup finals appearance in Brazil next year, looked sharp at the weekend in helping Galatasaray win a pre-season mini-tournament at Arsenal.
Lamouchi also handed a first call-up to the Anderlecht striker Zoro Cyriac Gohi Bi and new Malaga midfielder Bobley Anderson, the Ivorian Football Federation announced in a statement. (Reporting by Mark Gleeson in Cape Town; Editing by Ossian Shine)