Milan’s Franck Kessie in action
Ivory Coast coach explains Bailly, Kessie and Gradel picks
Sunday Jul 11, 2021. 11:00
Ivory Coast Olympic football coach Soualiho Haidara has explained his reasoning behind picking Eric Bailly, Franck Kessie and Max Gradel as his three overage players for Tokyo 2020.
The squads for the Olympic Men’s Football tournament must be made up of players aged 24 or younger (usually 23, but extended an extra year due to the postponement of this edition of the Games), with an allocation of three spaces for overage players.
Bailly and Gradel certainly fall into that category at 27 and 33 years of age respectively, while Kessie, 24, does not but is seen as a senior figure due to his status and experience.
“I opted for these players first, because I wanted to have a leader in each line of the team,” Haidara is quoted by the Manchester Evening News.
“Franck Kessie is a generational leader. He is a player who has a special connection with the group on which he regularly informs himself. We have been in constant contact over the phone. He has a good frame of mind and is able to bring us a lot in the community.
“Max Gradel has his communication and leadership on his side. He also has an interest in his country that cannot be disputed. Ditto for Eric Bailly, who will also bring his experience in the defensive area.”
Ivory Coast will face Saudi Arabia, Brazil and Germany in Group D, with their matches scheduled for July 22, 25 and 28 respectively.