Ivory Coast-born Fousseny Coulibaly will not go through the procedure of naturalisation for Tunisian citizenship, the country's football federation has announced.
The 28-year-old Esperance de Tunis defensive midfielder had been identified as a target by the national side. He was even included in a 27-man squad in December as part of its preparations for the World Cup.
That month, Coulibaly began naturalisation procedures with the Tunisian authorities.
According to the nation’s laws, citizenship can be obtained by “a foreigner who has returned exceptional services to Tunisia or whose naturalisation presents for Tunisia an exceptional interest”.
FTF drops Coualibaly
A statement by the Tunisian Football Federation (FTF) on Wednesday revealed that they have decided to drop attempts to pass through the player’s naturalisation.
"Contrary to reports in some media outlets and websites, the Ministry of Justice has not refused to naturalise Coulibaly," began the communique. "[The FTF] finds that the player would not contribute anything decisive ahead of the World Cup.
La fédération tunisienne a annoncé sur son site internet avoir abandonné la procédure de naturalisation du milieu ivoirien Fousseny Coulibaly. pic.twitter.com/DwKgGkNTct— AfricaFootballDaily (@AfricaFootDaily) 6 February 2018
"The federation is not intending to consider him for the World Cup."
The midfielder has been in the country since 2013, when he joined Tunisian side US Monastir.
Since arriving in Tunisia, he has been a notable presence in the domestic league, helping Esperance de Tunis to the league title last year.
Coulibaly has also lifted the Tunisian Cup and the Uafa Club Championship with Esperance.
He has already played for Ivory Coast in a 2014 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier against Nigeria in July 2013.
According to Fifa, any player intending to acquire a new citizenship needs to have "lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 in the territory of the relevant association."