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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 13:31 GMT
Kalou ends Ivory Coast exile
James Copnall
BBC Sport, Abidjan

Salomon Kalou
Salomon Kalou played for the Ivory Coast in their 1-0 over Guinea.

Ivorians have given a cautious welcome to their newest and perhaps most controversial international, Salomon Kalou.

Kalou had rejected a number of call-ups to the national team, the Elephants, before finally making his debut in a 1-0 win over Guinea on Tuesday.

Chelsea striker Didier Drogba scored the only goal of the game.

Kalou had attempted to play for his country of adoption, Holland, but his fast-track naturalization demand was rejected by the Dutch political authorities.

Yet despite this apparent attempt to turn his back on the land of his birth, many Ivorians seemed happy that the striker, who plays for English premier side Chelsea, was now an Ivorian international.

"It is a very good thing," one supporter, Ouegnin, said.

Kalou is still very young, and I think that is why he turned us down before
Aubin,
Ivory Coast fan

"I am not angry he turned us down before.

"The President of the Ivorian football federation said the door is open to everyone, so Kalou can play for us."

Another fan, Aubin, said he felt Kalou had learnt from his mistakes.

"He is still very young, and I think that is why he turned us down before.

"He has matured now, which is why he has changed his mind, and I am sure he will help the team."

Ivory Coast have many good attackers starting with Kalou's Chelsea team mate Didier Drogba and including Lens' Aruna Dindane and PSV's Arouna Kone but Aubin thinks he knows how Kalou can help the team.

"He is very good with the ball at his feet, and we do not have many players who can play out wide," he explained.

Kalou is less well known in Ivory Coast than his older brother, Bonaventure Kalou, a former national team captain.

The pair's mother, Helene Tra Lou Kalou, could scarcely hide her delight at her son's decision to play for Ivory Coast.

"I am very, very, very happy," she told BBC Sport.

"There is a proverb we have: one does not show the road to one's village with the left hand!"

The proverb indicated pride in her son¿s return home to Ivory Coast.

Mrs. Kalou had been criticized by Ivorian fans after her son attempted to play for Holland.

Now she has no fear of that!



SEE ALSO
IVC call Chelsea's Kalou again
02 Feb 07 |  African
Kalou chases elusive goals
20 Dec 06 |  African


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