NORWICH, APRIL 6 – On-loan Norwich City striker Dieumerci Mbokani faces a possible sanction from his country Democratic Republic of Congo because he skipped two African Nations Cup qualifiers last month after being caught up in the Brussels Airport bombing.
Mbokani did not travel for the home and away matches against Angola after escaping unhurt from the Zaventem Airport when suicide bombers destroyed its departure hall and killed 16 people on March 22.
The striker, who is on-loan at the Premier League club from Dynamo Kiev, was outside the departure hall when the bombs went off and fled the scene unhurt.
He later told reporters that his wife had saved his life by insisting he wait for a friend to join him before entering the airport building, while he had wanted to go straight to the check-in counters.
His international team mate Cedric Bakambu, who plays for Spanish club Villarreal, was booked on the same plane, but arrived in Kinshasa the next day after taking an alternate flight.
Mbokani, who has played for Anderlecht and Standard Liege in Belgium, stayed behind at his home in Brussels, missing the two matches against Angola, which took place on March 26 and three days later.
DR Congo won both games to stay on course to qualify for next year’s finals in Gabon.
Congolese Football Federation president Constant Omari, who is also a FIFA executive committee member, told French radio that Mbokani faces a possible sanction because he did not arrive for the games.
‘It’s true there were problems at the airport, but Bakambu was on the same plane (as Mbokani) and had to leave Brussels,’ Omari said.
‘But he caught an alternate plane from Charleroi and did everything to come here (to Kinshasa). We called Mbokani and told him of the new arrangements being made but he turned us down.’
Omari said Mbokani, as a senior member of the squad, should set an example to the rest of the team.
‘Do you think we need him again for the national team? I’d prefer to lose but with disciplined players,’ he added.