BATA, Equatorial Guinea, January 27 – DR Congo captain Youssouf Mulumbu has said he will miss Saturday’s Africa Cup of Nations quarter-final against neighbours Congo Brazzaville with a hamstring injury.
On Monday, the Leopards qualified for the last eight of the competition for the first time since 2006 when they drew 1-1 with Tunisia without the injured West Bromwich Albion star, and he admitted he will not be back in time to feature in the next round.
“I will not play the quarter-final because of the injury, but I trust my team-mates to qualify us for the semi-finals and then I will play another game in this tournament,” Mulumbu said.
“The medical staff are working hard to make sure I am back playing again.”
Of the clash of the Congos, he added: “It will be a derby, but it is a must-win game for us.
“It was great to go past the group stage and bring some happiness to our people who are going through a hard time and we wish to continue to do that with another victory on Saturday.
“You never even know, we could go all the way to the final now,” said Mulumbu, who celebrated his 28th birthday on Sunday.
Looking ahead to the game, which will be the first meeting of the countries at the finals in 41 years, coach Florent Ibenge said he expects a tough test.
“It will be a difficult game because we are two countries who are very close and we know ourselves very well,” said the 53-year-old.
“Congo are a very strong team with some good players and a great coach. (Thievy) Bifouma is really quick and (Fode) Dore is very tall. Their midfield works a lot.
“We will continue to work hard. This is only my sixth month in charge of the team and I know we can do more going forward.”