Gervinho’s Cote d’Ivoire return kept on ice in Belgium draw

Gervinho Parma
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The Parma forward last played for the Elephants in 2017 when the West Africans bowed at home to Morocco in a 2018 Fifa World Cup qualification tie

Parma star Gervinho will have to wait for Tuesday’s international friendly against Japan to stage his Cote d’Ivoire return.

The 33-year-old was an unused substitute as the 2015 African kings played out a 1-1 draw with Roberto Martinez’s team inside Brussels' King Baudouin Stadium.

Following the Elephants’ 2-0 home defeat to Morocco in a 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier, the forward retired from international football – a consequence of the West Africans’ failure to qualify for Russia.

However, he was recalled after a three-year hiatus alongside Serey Die and Manchester United’s Eric Bailly by coach Patrice Beaumelle for October’s fixtures against Belgium and the Asian country.

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Even at this, he was not considered for action against the Europeans who were without Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku.

After a goalless first-half where chances were few, Michy Batshuayi put the highest-ranked football playing nation in the world ahead after 53rd minute.

The on-loan Crystal Palace man slotted home from close range after his initial effort from Alexis Saelemaekers' cross had been kept out by goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo.

Wilfried Zaha was influential to his side's late equaliser, teasing a foul out of substitute Sebastiaan Bornauw inside the area to give Franck Kessie the opportunity to lift the ball into Van Crombrugge's top-right corner and ensure the game ended all square.

With this result, Belgium’s winning streak has come to an end. Before taking on Cote d’Ivoire, they had secured wins in all previous 12 games played.

Beaumelle’s men take on England at Wembley on Sunday before travelling to Iceland three days later.

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Cote d’Ivoire face Madagascar in a double-header Africa Cup of Nations qualification in November.

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 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.