Lazio's Keita Balde Diao gets first Senegal call-up

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Keita Balde Diao
Keita Balde Diao gets his first call up to Senegal's senior team.

Lazio's Keita Balde Diao has been called up by Senegal for the first time, for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Niger this month.

The 20-year-old was born in Spain but has never played for them even at youth level, making him eligible to play for the West African country where his parents are from.

Balde Diao was called up for the U-23 Olympic qualifying event in Senegal last year but his Italian club did not release him for the championship.

Southampton's Sadio Mané is one of seven English Premier League players named in a 26-man group which includes Pape Ndiaye Souaré, Idrissa Gana Guèye, Cheikhou Kouyaté, Henry Saivet, Mame Biram Diouf and Baye Oumar Niasse.

As expected, Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly returns to the squad, but West Ham's Diafra Sakho, fit-again Newcastle striker Papiss Cissé, Sunderland's Dame N'Doye and China-based Demba Ba have all been overlooked.

Cisse, 30, last appearance for his country was at the 2015 African Cup of Nations and has been in the international wilderness since Aliou Cisse took over from Alan Giresse as coach in March 2015.

The former international midfielder, 39, has also picked French Ligue 2 leading scorer Famara Diedhiou, who plays for Clermont Foot.

The 23-year-old striker has scored 20 goals in 27 appearances in the French second tier this season.

Group K leaders Senegal will host Niger in Dakar on 26 March before travelling to Niamey three days later in back-to-back 2017 Nations Cup qualifiers.

Teranga Lions have six points after wins over Burundi and Namibia, with only group winners guaranteed automatic qualification to the tournament in Gabon.

Senegal 26-man squad:

Goalkeepers: Abdoulaye Diallo (Rennes, France), Khadim Ndiaye (Horoya AC, Guinea), Pape Seydou Ndiaye (NGB)

Defenders: Kalidou Koulibaly (Napoli, Italy), Lamine Gassama and Zargo Touré (Lorient, France), Lamine Sané (Bordeaux, France), Kara Mbodj (Anderlecht, Belgium), Pape Ndiaye Souaré (Crystal Palace, England), Boucary Dramé (Atalanta, Italy).

Midfielders: Cheikhou Kouyaté (West Ham, England), Idrissa Gana Guèye (Aston Villa, England), Issa Sarr (Orlando Pirates, South Africa), Cheikh Ndoye (Angers, France), Younnouss Sankaré (Guingamp, France), Mohamed Diamé (Hull City, England), Pape Alioune Ndiaye (Osmanlispor, Turkey), Amara Baby (Charleroi, Belgium).

Forwards: Sadio Mané (Southampton, England), Diao Keita Baldé (Lazio, Italy), Henry Saivet (Newcastle), Moussa Konaté (FC Sion, Switzerland), Mame Biram Diouf (Stoke City, England), Famara Diédhiou (Clermont Foot, France), Baye Oumar Niasse (Everton, England), Cherif Salif Sané (Casa Sports)