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Canada set to face former Chelsea & France star Florent Malouda at Gold Cup

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An unexpected opponent.

FC Bayern Muenchen v Chelsea FC - UEFA Champions League Final Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images

Canada could face a man with 80 caps for France and a Champions League winner’s medal at the Gold Cup this summer as a result of an apparent quirk in FIFA’s eligibility rules.

French Guiana, who have been drawn into the Canadians’ group in the United States, have named former Chelsea star Florent Malouda to their 40-man preliminary list for the tournament.

Malouda represented France at two World Cups and two European Championships but apparently now plans to switch his international allegiance to his place of birth. He was born in Cayenne, the capital of French Guiana, before moving to Paris to pursue a career in professional football and joining Chateauroux.

I’ll be honest; I haven’t trawled through FIFA’s statutes for long enough to determine exactly why Malouda is eligible to switch, but from a quick Google I believe it is due to territories being treated differently to autonomous nations. If anyone can find the specific provision there, let us know in the comments.

UPDATE: French Guiana is a member of CONCACAF (despite being in South America) but not FIFA. That means players born in the territory can play for both countries but that French Guiana cannot enter the World Cup.

Malouda turned 37 yesterday and plays for the Delhi Dynamos in the Indian Super League. He was a tremendous buy for Chelsea, who signed him from Lyon in 2007, and was named their Players’ Player of the Year in the third of his six seasons at the club.

Beating French Guiana will be a non-negotiable part of any Canadian bid to reach the knockout stage as their other two opponents in the group are Costa Rica and Honduras. The South American minnows have some Ligue 1 talent at their disposal, though, including Guingamp striker Sloan Privat and Ludovic Baal of Rennes.