Having returned to the Cote d’Ivoire selection last season just in time to be included in their World Cup plans, Kolo Toure is now set for one last tournament appearance for his country. Unfortunately for Liverpool, that tournament is the African Cup of Nations, which kicks off on January 17th and will see the defender miss three weeks of club action.
Cote d’Ivoire coach Herve Renard has officially released his squad today, and it includes the 33-year-old centre half. That he will soon depart for three weeks—missing three league matches, including away to Everton, as well as the club’s two-legged League Cup semi-final against Chelsea—makes it important that Liverpool appear to have found a bit more depth in defence in Emre Can.
With Dejan Lovren expected back well before the tournament kicks off, it should mean that barring any more injuries Liverpool will have four players capable of playing in the middle of the defence even while Toure is away. Still, after the Ivorian re-established himself in the starting rotation over the past month, that he will soon be unavailable for selection is a blow for Brendan Rodgers.
To date, Toure has made 112 appearances for Cote d’Ivoire since his international debut in 2000 against Rwanda. The defender had already announced that, regardless of whether he was selected for the upcoming tournament, he would retire from international football at the end of the current domestic season, meaning that this will be the last time that Toure represents his country.
"I plan to make this my final international assignment," Toure said following the end of the Elephants’ successful qualification campaign earlier this season. "I want to give my all to my country because we have been in search of silverware for too long. If my coach gives me the opportunity to play at the upcoming Nations Cup I’ll do my best and thereafter we’ll say goodbye."
Now, he’ll get that chance. It may not be ideal for Liverpool, but hopefully he can end his international career with a piece of the silverware he’s been looking for.