Ibrahima Traore agrees to Guinea return after 13-month break

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Borussia Moenchengladbach winger Ibrahima Traore
Borussia Moenchengladbach winger Ibrahima Traore

Borussia Moenchengladbach winger Ibrahima Traore has ended his self-imposed exile from Guinea's national team.

The 27-year-old took a break from internationals 'to focus on his club career' after a quarter-final loss to Ghana at the 2015 tournament.

But the Germany-based player has said 'this is the right time to return' after he was named in a 22-man squad for this month's 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Malawi.

"I needed to concentrate on my club career, to get more playing time at Borussia Monchengladbach and that is what I have managed to do," Traore told French radio station RFI.

"I said that I would return as soon as my club situation has stabilised. I also explained that I would return a matured footballer and bring more positivity to the team.

"This is the right time to return. It's been a year, it may seem long to some, it may seem short for others. But time has passed quickly. "

It represents a significant change in thinking after Traore rejected a call-up for last September's qualifier against Zimbabwe.

"Unfortunately my stance [to stay away] was not well understood and led to several misunderstandings," the player admitted.

"Yet I have always said that it was a break, not a final judgment, and I wanted to return to the national team at some point.

A delighted Guinea coach Luis Fernandez, who took charge of the Syli Nationale in April, has also included uncapped Tunisia-based defender Bangaly Keita, experienced Kevin Constant of Bologna and Reims midfielder Alhassane Bangoura in his latest squad.

AC Horoya midfielder Ibrahima Sory Sankhon has been drafted in as a late replacement for SC Bastia midfielder Sadio Diallo, who was forced to withdraw from the double-header due to a groin injury.

Sankhon's inclusion is a reward for his impressive showing at the 2016 African Nations Championship (CHAN) tournament in Rwanda, where his two goals helped Guinea finish in fourth place.

But there is no room for Bouna Sarr, who turned down the chance to play at the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea and against Swaziland last year.

Struggling Guinea will host Malawi in Conakry on 25 March and travel to Blantyre four days later.

The Syli Nationale sit bottom in Group L on one point after a shock home defeat to Swaziland on the opening day of qualifying before forcing Zimbabwe to a 1-1 draw in Harare.

Guinea squad:

Goalkeepers: Naby Yattara (Unattached), Abdul Aziz Keita (AS Kaloum, Guinea)

Defenders: Florentin Pogba (Saint-Etienne, France), Fode Camara (HUSA, Morocco), Issiaga Sylla (Gazelec Ajaccio, France), Camara Alseny (AS Kaloum, Guinea), Sékou Conde (FC Olympik Donetsk, Ukraine), Sankoh Baissama (Stade Brestois, France), Lanfia Camara (FC Brussels, Belgium), Bangaly Keita (JS Kairouanaise, Tunisia)

Midfielders: Ibrahima Traoré (Borussia Monchengladbach, Germany), Ibrahima Sory Conté (Anderlecht, Belgium), Naby Keita (Red Bull Salzburg, Austria), Kevin Constant (Bologna, Italy), Landel Guy Michel (Gençlerbirligi, Turkey) Ibrahima Sory Sankhon (AC Horoya,)

Forwards: Seydouba Soumah (Qadsia SC, Kuwait), Ibrahima Sory Soumah (AS Kaloum), Mohamed Yattara (Angers, France), Alhassane Bangoura (Reims, France), Idrissa Sylla (Anderlecht, Belgium), François Kamano (SC Bastia, France)