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Soccer--World-Ivory Coast penpix of likely squad for World Cup finals

Reuters

ABIDJAN, April 28 (Reuters) - Ivory Coast's squad for the World Cup finals is likely to comprise the following 23 players:

Goalkeepers:

Boubacar Barry (Lokeren) Age 34; 75 caps. Played at the last two World Cups in Germany and South Africa for the Ivorians and one of the old guard likely to depart after Brazil. Has won an award in Belgium for his goalkeeping and also had a stint in France but has been something of an Achilles heel at times for the Ivorian side. Better known by his nickname "Copa".

Sayouba Mande (Stabaek) Age 20; 1 cap. Handed an international debut in March in friendly in Belgium. Product of one of the many academies in Ivory Coast continually searching for young talent. Debuted in Norwegian league in 2012 and was a regular last year.

Sylvain Gbohouo (Sewe Sport) Age 25; 0 caps. Third choice in the squad who will likely be the only home-based player. Has won back-to-back Ivorian championships with his club. Named best goalkeeper in the Ivorian league in 2012 and seen as the long-term successor to Barry.

Defenders:

Serge Aurier (Toulouse) Age 21; 7 caps. Transfer target after proving ability both at right-back or central defender in Ligue 1, and also grabbed hatful of goals. Brought up in France, where he debuted at Racing Lens before moving to Toulouse. Ivorian debut came in June in World Cup qualification.

Arthur Boka (VfB Stuttgart) Age 31; 75 caps. Diminutive full-back began career at ASEC Abidjan's fabled academy and was among first wave of players to leave for Beveren in Belgium under tutelage of controversial Frenchman Jean-Marc Guillou. Spent few seasons at Racing Strasbourg before joining VfB Stuttgart where he helped win Bundesliga in 2007. Club contract runs out in June and is expected to leave.

Constant Djakpa (Eintracht Frankfurt) Age 27; 3 caps. Made return to Ivorian side in March, six years after his last appearance at 2008 African Nations Cup finals. Regular game time in Bundesliga over recent years, plus crisis of sorts on left side of the Ivorian defence, has seen his return to contention. Has also played club football in Norway and Romania.

Siaka Tiene (Montpellier) Age 32; 83 caps. Left-sided wing back who has been a consistent squad member since debut in 2000. But did not get into squad for 2006 World Cup finals in Germany. Played twice at 2010 finals. Left Paris St Germain after accusing ex-coach Carlo Ancelotti of not wanting to use him.

Kolo Toure (Liverpool) Age 33; 109 caps. Player with penchant for unpredictable. Made international debut aged 19, a year after announcing arrival in teenage team that won the 1999 African Super Cup for ASEC Abidjan. Moved from Arsenal to Manchester City after dressing-room bust up with France's William Gallas and later sat out suspension for failing doping test. Now in line for third Premier League medal with Liverpool after a bargain basement move when City no longer wanted him.

Didier Zokora (Trabzonspor) Age 33; 116 caps. Ivory Coast's most-capped international who got shifted from no-nonsense role at heart of midfield to central defence at the 2010 finals by Sven-Goran Eriksson. Started in Europe with Racing Genk, where he won the Belgian title in 2002, and moved to St Etienne, Tottenham, Sevilla and has been in Turkey in 2011. Played in all six of Ivory Coast's previous World Cup finals' matches.

Midfielders:

Geoffroy Serey Die (Basel) Age 29; 5 caps. Debuted for national team at 28 in last year's World Cup qualifiers as defensive midfielder cover, after a journeyman career in Tunisia and Switzerland before summer move to Basel. Was banned for eight games in 2012 for slapping a ball boy and given a four-month ban, later lifted, by FIFA for failing to honour a contract he signed in 2008 with Egypt's Zamalek.

Ismael Diomande (St Etienne) Age 21; 0 caps. First call-up in recent months for the youthful defensive midfielder, who has had his injury problems over season. Has come through the ranks at St Etienne, who recently extended his contract to 2017.

Jean-Jacques Gosso Gosso (Genclerbirligi) Age 31; 25 caps. Expressed surprise at own inclusion in squad for last World Cup but did not play. Featured as makeshift right-back for the Ivorians at the 2012 Nations Cup, where Ivory Coast lost in the final. Caused major stir when he moved from Morocco to Israel in 2007, later joining Monaco and then moving to Turkey in 2011.

Max Gradel (St Etienne) Age 26; 22 caps. Winger went to Lewisham College in London from Paris as 17-year-old and spent four months on trial at Arsenal before signing at Leicester City and later for Leeds United. St Etienne offered him four-year deal in 2011, soon after his international debut, but this season has made just three starts.

Romaric (Bastia) Age 30; 46 caps. Made a surprisingly quick recovery from horror car crash in 2005 to be included in squad for 2006 African Nations Cup tournament in Egypt and subsequent World Cup. He also played in 2010 where he scored against North Korea. Full name is Christian Koffi Ndri but his footballing name is Romaric. Graduate of ASEC academy who has played club football in Belgium, France and Spain.

Cheick Ismael Tiote (Newcastle United) Age 27; 38 caps. Scouted as teenager by Anderlecht but was loaned out to Dutch clubs Roda JC Kerkrade and Twente, where he won Dutch league in 2010. Forced way into starting line-up with national side just before last World Cup. Cost Newcastle 3.5 million pounds ($5.9 million)after tournament. Amassed 25 cautions in his first 50 games in opening two seasons in the Premier League.

Yaya Toure (Manchester City) Age 30; 80 caps. Powerful hard-running man mountain who has won African Footballer of the Year award for last three years. A product of ASEC Abidjan academy, which has produced more than 20 players who have gone on to to play for clubs in Europe, following in footsteps of elder brother Kolo. League winner in Greece in 2006, Spain in 2009 and 2010, and England in 2012, plus has cup winners' medals from four different countries.

Forwards:

Mathis Bolly (Fortuna Dusseldorf) Age 23; 2 caps. Oslo-born striker who debuted in June after change of allegiance, having played for Norway at junior level. Father is originally from Ivory Coast, but career started at Lillestrom before he moved to Fortuna Dusseldorf when they were promoted to Bundesliga in 2012. Bolly is renowned for speed off the mark but his goal return has not been too prolific.

Wilfried Bony (Swansea City) Age 25; 24 caps. Product of increasing number of private academies set up across west Africa to develop talent for European market. Had trials at Liverpool but made breakthrough in Europe at Slavia Prague. Made name at Vitesse Arnhem with 36 goals in 36 matches in the 2012-13 season that saw him named Dutch player of the year. Swansea paid club-record 12.0 million pounds for his services last summer and his goals have kept Swansea safe in Premier League.

Didier Drogba (Galatasaray) Age 36; 99 caps. Talismanic presence who is no longer guaranteed berth in starting line-up. Grew up in France after being sent to live with his footballing uncle Michel Goba. Crowned his club career, which includes four FA Cup successes with Chelsea, with the penalty shootout winner in the Champions League final in 2012. A two-times African Footballer of the Year but after seven tournament appearances, yet to win honours at national team level. All-time top scorer with 61 goals.

Seydou Doumbia (CSKA Moscow) Age 26; 18 caps. His goals helped Young Boys Berne to Swiss title in 2010 and earned him place in World Cup squad for South Africa, where he played in one match. Moved to Russia afterwards, where he also won top goalscorer award. Has been unable to claim regular place in Ivorian squad and did not play in single 2014 qualifier.

Gervinho (Roma) Age 26; 51 caps. Heads to World Cup after his best ever season at Roma, vastly improved from his inconsistent days at Arsenal. Portuguese-style nickname comes from first name Gervais, the rest of his name is Yao Kouassi. Moved to Beveren in Belgium in 2005 followed by stints at Le Mans and Lille, who sold him to Arsenal.

Salomon Kalou (Lille) Age 28; 65 caps. Continues to score goals at club level, past double figures this season in Ligue 1, where he moved after six seasons at Chelsea. In 2006 he tried to play for Netherlands when he was on books of Feyenoord and made legal bid for citizenship, encouraged by Dutch coach Marco van Basten, but was stymied by country's strict laws. Ivorians disowned him at the time only to hand him debut nine months later. Elder brother, Bonaventure, is former Ivorian captain.

Didier Ya Konan (Hannover 96) Age 29; 19 caps. Battling back from injury in bid to make squad but has only one Bundesliga goal this season. Following trials with Charlton Athletic, he signed for Rosenborg Trondheim in Norway where he won league honours in 2009 before moving to Germany. Squad member at African Nations Cup finals in South Africa last year. ($1 = 0.5960 British Pounds) (Compiled by Mark Gleeson, editing by Mike Collett)

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