Gervinho Cote d'IvoireGetty

Gervinho makes international return as Cote d’Ivoire lose to Japan

Cote d’Ivoire legend Gervinho staged an international comeback in the Elephants’ 1-0 defeat to Japan in Tuesday’s international friendly.

The 33-year-old played for 81 minutes as Patrice Beaumelle’s team lost to the Samurai Blue inside Utrecht’s Galgenwaard Stadium.

Following the Elephants’ 2-0 home defeat to Morocco in a 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier on November 11, 2017, the Parma star drew the curtain on his international career – a consequence of the West Africans’ failure to qualify for Russia.

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However, he was recalled to the team by coach Beaumelle after a three-year hiatus alongside Serey Die and Manchester United’s Eric Bailly for October friendlies.

After sitting out of their 1-1 draw against Roberto Martinez’s Belgium inside Brussels' King Baudouin Stadium, he was handed a starter’s role against the Japanese senior national team before he was replaced by Real Mallorca’s Lago Junior in the 81st minute.

Cercle Brugge defender Naomichi Ueda sealed the win for Hajime Moriyasu’s side in the first minute of added time – two minutes after replacing Sei Muroya.

Following this defeat, Cote d’Ivoire are expected to regroup in November for their double-header Africa Cup of Nations qualification with Madagascar.

They are currently third in Group K having garnered three points in two games played so far enroute Cameroon 2022.

Gervinho, who boasts of 84 international caps for his country with 22 goals to his credit, played a crucial role in their Afcon 2015 triumph as they silenced Ghana 9-8 on penalties after the scores stood at 0-0 after extra time inside Estadio de Bata, Equatorial Guinea.

In the 2019-20 season, he scored seven times in 31 Serie A games as Roberto D'Aversa's Parma finished 11th in the Italian elite division. He is yet to find a goal in the 2020-21 campaign.