Bony, Gradel axed by Ivory Coast
Misfiring Premier League strikers Wilfried Bony and Max Gradel were dropped from the Ivory Coast squad on Friday as caretaker coach Ibrahim Kamara made sweeping changes following the Africa Cup of Nations flop.
Bony, capped 51 times and on loan at Stoke from Manchester City, and Bournemouth's Gradel, who has made 45 appearances for the African giants, were axed from a 23-man squad for friendly games against Russia and Senegal later this month.
In all, six players who featured in January's Africa Cup of Nations - when the defending champions were knocked out in the first round - were left out.
They include Salomon Kalou of Hertha Berlin, who had already announced his retirement from international football.
Kamara, who replaced Michel Dussuyer after the Cup of Nations, recalled Roger Assale, Cyriac Gohi Bi and Abdoul Karim Cisse while there were first-time call-ups for Cheick Ibrahim Comara of local club AFAD Abidjan and Moussa Kone, who plays in Italy at Cesena.
Ivory Coast face Russia in Krasnodar on March 24 and Senegal in Paris three days later.
Goalkeepers: Sylvain Gbohouo (TP Mazembe/COD), Ali Badra Sangaré (AS Tanda/CIV), Abdoul Karim Cissé (SC Gagnoa/CIV)
Defenders: Serge Aurier (Paris SG/FRA), Mamadou Bagayoko (St Truiden/BEl), Eric Bailly (Man Utd/ENG), Abdoulaye Bamba (Angers/FRA), Simon Deli (Slavia Prague/CZE), Wilfried Kanon (Den Haag/NED), Adama Traoré (Basel/SUI), Cheick Ibrahim Comara (AFAD/CIV)
Midfielders: Cheick Doukoure (Metz/FRA), Jules Christ Kouassi Eboué (Celtic/SCO), Franck Kessié (Atalanta/ITA), Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel/SUI), Jean Michael Seri (Nice/FRA), Moussa Kone (Cesena/ITA)
Attackers: Nicolas Pepe (Angers/FRA), Jonathan Kodjia (Aston Villa/ENG), Giovanni Sio (Rennes/FRA), Roger Assale (Young Boys/SUI), GOHI BI Cyriac Gohi Bi (Fulham/ENG), Wilfried Zaha (Crystal Palace/ENG).