Salomon Kalou, who only recently announced a retirement from international competition, now says that he will indeed participate in World Cup qualifiers for the Ivory Coast national team. “I plan to play for my country in the World Cup qualifiers again,” Kalou said in an interview with the German media site BZ. According to Kalou, he was primarily interested in allowing younger players to percolate into the 2017 African Cup of Nations squad. “I am 31 now, have won the African Nations Cup, and played another final. My retirement was only for the African Nations Cup,” Kalou said. Therefore, Kalou will join the Ivorian team, with a timetable to premiere in the Ivory Coast’s upcoming friendly match against the Netherlands. The Ivory Coast currently is atop the standings of Group C in African qualifiers for the World Cup. In the group stage, the Ivory Coast has already recorded victories over Mali and Morocco, and is preparing for a matchup with Gabon, led by fellow African superstar Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, scheduled for August 28.
In addition to providing space for Ivorian youths to develop in the African Cup of Nations, Kalou had initially announced his retirement from international play to focus on his club career. He has played for Hertha Berlin since 2014, and made 95 appearances with the team so far, scoring 31 goals in that span. He recently signed a contract with the team that locks him up until 2019. Hertha Berlin head coach Pal Dardai says that he is concerned about the aging star’s health, but that he supports Kalou’s decision. “I have heard that Salomon wants to play for his country again. I will talk to him after the Bundesliga final. We need to decide together what’s best for Hertha, Salomon and his future. His heart wants to play for the national team.”