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Afobe pulls out of DR Congo AFCON squad

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AFC Bournemouth Striker benik Afobe switched his allegiance to DR Congo early 2016. PHOTO/SKY

KINSHASA, DR Congo, Jan 2- Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe will not play at the Africa Cup of Nations after withdrawing from Democratic Republic of Congo’s squad.

The 23-year-old former England Under-21 international decided to switch allegiances to DR Congo in March.

And he was named on their preliminary 31-man list for the 14 January to 5 February tournament in Gabon.

But DR Congo media officer Gerard-Desire Angengwa said on Monday: “Afobe has forfeited from the tournament.”

No reason was given for Afobe’s withdrawal but media reports suggested the forward had told DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge he wished to consolidate his place in the Bournemouth starting line-up after scoring against Swansea City in a 3-0 away win on Saturday.

“The manager showed faith in me by starting me and I wanted to repay him with a goal, so I’m happy,” Afobe told the English Premier League club’s website after the victory on New Year’s eve.

“The goal was a great relief and a goal at a crucial time. The lads have been helping me a lot and I want to improve personally.”

Afobe now has two goals in his last three starts for the Cherries but could be banned from playing for his club for the duration of the three-week tournament if the Congolese federation take up the issue with Fifa.

His decision comes less than two months after receiving Fifa’s permission belatedly to switch his international allegiance.

He was supposed to make his debut for the Congolese in November’s World Cup qualifier at Guinea but was stymied when the Football Association sent his paperwork for the switch of nationality to the wrong federation, embarrassingly mixing up DR Congo with neighbouring Congo-Brazzaville.

Afobe had been left frustrated after flying all the way to Africa to find he was not eligible to play, permission coming too late after the mix-up in London was discovered.

DR Congo have a tough group at the tournament in Gabon, competing with holders Ivory Coast, Morocco and Togo in Group C.

Their opening game is against Morocco in Oyem on 16 January.

-By BBC

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