Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) continue to reinforce their squad for the back-to-back Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) Group G qualifier against Zimbabwe after roping the experienced Chancel Mbemba who had been omitted from the initial provisional squad.
The 25-year-old FC Porto defender who had not played a match for the Portuguese giants since joining from Newcastle in July, was not named in coach Florent Ibeng’s original 36-man squad for the games in Kinshasa on October 13 and Harare three days later.
However, reports yesterday suggested that Mbemba has since been called up and will join the rest of the squad next week when they prepare for the two crucial matches.
Following the team’s uninspiring 1-1 draw away to Liberia in the previous qualifier where he travelled without the team’s stars, Ibenge has recalled most of them, including China-based striker Cedric Bakambu.
Some of the big guns that have also been recalled are former Chelsea star Gael Kakuta now playing for La Liga team Roya Vallecano, Yannick Bolasie of Everton on loan to Aston Villa, Benik Afobe of Stoke City and West Ham’s Arthur Masuaku.
Standard Liege’s Paul Mpoku and Guingamp defender Jordan Ikoko also returns after missing the match against Liberia due to injury.
Zimbabwe and DRC are tied top of the group standings with four points each after two rounds of matches, although the former enjoy a superior goal difference.
Group G also has Congo Brazzaville and Liberia, who have a point each, making the top of the group clash between the Warriors and the Leopards very crucial in determining the group’s two teams that will qualify to the Afcon finals in Cameroon next year.
Warriors coach Sunday Chidzambga has also named a strong 23-man squad for the two matches, going largely with the players that he took to Congo Brazzaville last month, where he returned with a point.
The notable inclusion is that of England-born Nottingham Forest defender Tendayi Darikwa, who is now eligible to play competitive matches for Zimbabwe having acquired a Zimbabwean passport, and the duo of Ovidy Karuru and Marvellous Nakamba, who return from injuries.
Winger Kuda Mahachi has been dropped, while Costa Nhamoinesu and Nyasha Mushekwi have been left out. Striker Evans Rusike has been withdrawn after picking an injury, and replaced by Terrence Dzvukamanja.