Wilfried Zaha has taken his blossoming international career to the next level after making his eagerly awaited debut for the Ivory Coast in an Africa Cup of Nations warm-up game against Sweden on Sunday night.


The Crystal Palace winger, who was capped twice by adoptive country England in 2012 and 2013 after previously representing the Three Lions at junior level, formally asked to switch his international allegiance to the country of his birth last year with a letter to FIFA.


His request was accepted in time to be named in Ivory Coast's AFCON squad - much to the disappointment of club manager Sam Allardyce who has shown a great lack of respect to Africa's championships - and the Sweden friendly marked the first steps on this new journey.

Ironically, it was against Sweden that Zaha had made his England debut. But he remained eligible to change nationality as neither of his two appearances came in competitive games.


Zaha appeared from the bench during the game in Abu Dhabi and within five minutes had crossed for Rennes forward Giovanni Sio to score what proved to be the decisive goal in the 2-1 victory over an experimental, young Swedish side.

"Very happy to play my first match with Ivory Coast," the 24-year-old tweeted afterwards.


Zaha will now be hoping to make his full debut when Les Elephants face Uganda in their final warm-up game on Wednesday night. Ivory Coast's tournament will then begin in Gabon five days later with an opening group game against Togo.


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