Why Crystal Palace’s Zaha didn’t play for Ivory Coast over international break

Wilfried Zaha’s camp have today moved to shut down reports that the Crystal Palace star boycotted the Ivory Coast’s latest round of fixtures.

Zaha misses out

Les Éléphants are set to take on Tunisia in a friendly clash this evening.

This comes after Ibrahim Kamara’s men fell to a disappointing 2-1 defeat at the hands of Benin last Friday.

The Ivory Coast’s latest latest loss came with a number of key performers absent, including Arsenal’s Nicolas Pepe and Crystal Palace’s Wilfried Zaha.

It was confirmed over the weekend that the former had returned to the Emirates to work on his fitness, after working his way into Unai Emery’s starting XI over recent weeks.

As for Zaha, varying reports emerged regarding exactly why Palace’s star man pulled out of international duty.

Wilfried Zaha during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Round-of-16 match between Mali and Ivory Coast at Suez Stadium. (Photo by Visionhaus)

‘Do not know anything about him’

One such claim regarding Zaha’s absence, meanwhile, was that the 26-year-old was boycotting the Ivory Coast setup.

Such suggestions, though, have not gone down at all well with Zaha’s camp.

Speaking in an interview with the Abidjan Show earlier today, a member of the wide-man’s entourage slammed reports questioning Zaha’s commitment to his country’s cause, assuring that he has simply been dealing with ‘urgent’ personal issues:

‘Wilfried is always motivated for his country. Only he could not play these two games because at the same time, he happened to have several urgent things to settle. He’s a boy who loves work and, contrary to what people say, he never boycotted anything.’

‘Even when one is an official or when one works privately (outside of football), it may happen that one asks permission from his superior to be absent to settle family issues or personal things. So, why when Wilfried excuses an absence, is it said that he boycotts the selection? Let people stop denigrating him because they do not know anything about him.’

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