Demba Ba ready to return to international fold with Senegal

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Demba Ba
Demba Ba

Besiktas striker Demba Ba is hoping for an international recall, claiming he has been encouraged by discussions with new Senegal coach Aliou Cisse.

Ba has not represented Senegal since October 2014 and was dramatically left out of their 2015 Africa Cup of Nations squad after a public spat with former manager Alain Giresse.

The 29-year-old was highly critical of Giresse after the Frenchman claimed he was unfit to play in the tournament's final qualifiers, an excuse Ba strongly refuted.

However, Cisse, who replaces Giresse early this month, spoke with Ba about returning to the international fold and the striker admits he is keen to return.

"I spoke to Aliou Cisse and I made it clear that my absence from the national team was not a self-imposed exile," Ba told Senegalese publication "Stades".

"I cannot reveal what was discussed but it was very encouraging and he was happy to know I am available for selection."

Ba, formerly of Chelsea and Newcastle, has made an impact at Turkish side Besiktas and is their leading scorer this season. He insists he has never closed the door on a return to the Teranga Lions, saying the country is bigger than individuals.

"The coach made it clear that Senegal's interest must always take precedence over personal interest.

"As gentlemen we both agreed that our country comes first and that's what really matters," Ba added.

Ba could make his return for Senegal against Ghana in a friendly on 28 March in the French city of Le Havre.

"I love serving my country and when I get a chance I will return to the national team, right now there is no problem.

"The mood is good and whatever happens from here, if it happens, would be fantastic."

The new coach, Cisse, has been tasked with reviving the fortunes of Senegal after a disappointing Nations Cup campaign in Equatorial Guinea.

The 38-year-old Cisse, who won 35 international caps with the Teranga Lions, signed a four-year contract, to be reviewed after the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.

Cisse, who played for Birmingham City and Portsmouth between 2002 and 2006, brings experience of playing at the highest level with Senegal, having captained them at the 2002 World Cup where the team reached the quarter-finals.