• Imbula was hoping to play at Egypt 2019 but he says he was not selected because he did not get the necessary clearance from Fifa in time.
• I wish good luck to the team and I will be with all my teammates during the next CAN — Imbula
Stoke City midfielder Gianelli Imbula says he is ‘sad and angry’ after being left out of the Democratic Republic of Congo’s Africa Cup of Nations squad.
The former French youth international, who was born in Belgium and raised in France, is eligible to play for the Leopards through his parents who were born in DR Congo.
Imbula was hoping to play at Egypt 2019 but he says he was not selected because he did not get the necessary clearance from Fifa in time. The 26-year-old was included in an initial 32-man provisional squad and was with his DR Congo teammates at a training camp in Marbella in Spain where they have been preparing for the tournament.
“It is with a mixture of sadness and anger that I write these few lines,” Imbula said in a statement on social media. “It has been more than a month since I agreed to wear the Democratic Republic of Congo jersey. It’s been many weeks that I have been preparing myself physically and mentally to be in the best condition to deliver my best form at the Africa Cup of Nations.”
“But today [Tuesday] I was told early in the afternoon that my file was not up to date and that I could not participate with the Democratic Republic of Congo. At this moment I am very sad not to be able to participate with my teammates at this competition and very angry that I had believed it would be possible.”
“I wish good luck to the team and I will be with all my teammates during the next CAN,” he added.
Imbula spent last season on loan at Spanish club Rayo Vallecano, featuring 22 times for the side that finished bottom of La Liga.
Everton’s Yannick Bolasie is named in the squad and will be playing his second Nations Cup after missing the 2017 edition in Gabon. Also included is China-based Cederic Bakambu and the former Leopards captain Tresor Mputu who will be featuring in his third Nations Cup after a six-year absence. The Leopards face Uganda in their opening match on 22 June before taking on Egypt four days later. Their last group game is against Zimbabwe on 30 June.