Mali call up Marseille man Samassa

BAMAKO - Mali have included Olympique Marseille striker Mamadou Samassa in their squad for two World Cup qualifiers next month even though he has played for France at junior level and they are unlikely to be able to use him.

Samassa, 23, was named on Thursday in a squad of 25 players by coach Stephen Keshi for qualifiers against Ghana and Benin in Bamako.

FIFA confirmed to Reuters on Friday they had received an application from the Mali Football Federation for a switch of nationality for the Parisian-born striker, who joined Marseille this season from Le Mans. Samassa's parents hail from Mali.

Samassa's application is likely to be rejected because FIFA regulations say that a player seeking to switch his international allegiance must do so before his 21st birthday.

Players who have competed for one country at junior level may represent another if they qualify for the nationality of the new country and are under 21.

Mali have benefited from the rule in the past, persuading former French junior internationals such as Frederic Kanoute and Momo Sissoko to play for them.

The pair are in the squad for the Group D matches on June 7 and 21.