Ivory Coast want Marc Guehi to snub England and represent his homeland

The Ivory Coast are hoping to convince Crystal Palace star Marc Guehi of SNUB England to play for the country of his birth – just like team-mate Wilfried Zaha – as he prepares to face them at Wembley tonight

  • Ivory Coast coach wants Marc Guehi to represent the African nation
  • Guehi made his England debut in a friendly against Switzerland on Saturday
  • The highly rated defender was born in Ivory Coast before moving to London
  • He could still play for the country of his birth if he chooses to change allegiance
  • The Three Lions take on Ivory Coast in a friendly at Wembley tonight

Ivory Coast head coach Patrice Beaumelle has revealed his intention to lure Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi away from England to represent his native country.

Beaumelle said he was “working” to persuade the much-loved centre-back, who made his England debut in the friendly against Switzerland on Saturday, to play for the African nation.

The 21-year-old was born in Abidjan before moving to London when he was one, and is still eligible for Ivory Coast as he has only played for England in one friendly so far.

Marc Guehi made his England debut in the 2-1 win over Switzerland at Wembley

Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle (right) hopes to convince Guehi to play for the country

Ivory Coast coach Patrice Beaumelle (right) hopes to convince Guehi to play for the country

Guehi could face his homeland when England take on Ivory Coast on Tuesday

Guehi could face his homeland when England take on Ivory Coast on Tuesday

Beaumelle said he would contact Guehi, who could line up against Ivory Coast at Wembley on Tuesday, “in the coming weeks” to assess whether he would be interested in playing for the Elephants.

“I’ve been following Marc for two years, since he was playing at Swansea,” said Beaumelle. “I know he can still choose Ivory Coast, so we are working on it.”

“I tried to contact him several weeks ago before his decision. When I saw him in the English lists, I understood that at the moment he wanted to try with the Three Lions.

“Since going to Crystal Palace he has improved a lot and he could be an option. But the choice must come from the heart. He will make his own decision.

“He did well on his first cap for England, but maybe we’ll try the orange Ivory Coast shirt – you never know.” I will wait a few weeks and try to contact him to find out if he is interested in coming to try out the friendlies next time. We’ll see after.’

Palace winger Wilfried Zaha opted to play for Ivory Coast instead of England in 2016

Palace winger Wilfried Zaha opted to play for Ivory Coast instead of England in 2016

Guehi faces a similar dilemma as Zaha, also born in Ivory Coast

Guehi faces a similar dilemma as Zaha, also born in Ivory Coast

Guehi could follow in the footsteps of Palace team-mate Wilfried Zaha, who earned two caps for England before moving to Ivory Coast in 2016.

England boss Gareth Southgate said this week he understood Zaha’s decision to choose the Ivory Coast over the Three Lions.

Southgate also hailed Guehi’s ‘compound defence’ in the 2-1 win over Switzerland – at which the player revealed his family was not present.

Guehi told the BBC they were “getting a bit nervous so preferred to watch at home”, but were tempted to come to Wembley to watch his debut.

“I know they watch me from afar and support me, and I still feel their love in my heart,” he said.

Guehi has missed just one of Crystal Palace’s 29 Premier League games since joining from Chelsea last summer.

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Toya J. Bell