Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe included in DR Congo squad

By Oluwashina OkelejiBBC Sport
Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe
Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe represented England at youth level

Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe has been included in the Democratic Republic of Congo squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Angola later this month.

The 23-year-old has represented England at youth level since 2005, having captained the Under-12s, won the Victory Shield with the U16s, and turned out for the U17s, U19s and U21s.

Last month Afobe revealed that a lack of chances to make England's senior squad could lead him to turn to the country of his parents.

DR Congo coach, Florent Ibenge, has now handed him a maiden call-up in a 32-man provisional squad for the Group B fixtures at home on 26 March and away in Lubango three days later.

Afobe holds dual nationality and has not played for England's senior side, making him eligible for the Leopards - once an application has been made to Fifa and approved.

Afobe, who moved to Bournemouth from Wolves for £10m in January, has scored five goals in 11 appearances for the Cherries so far this season. The former Arsenal striker scored 23 goals in two seasons with Wolves.

Other Premier League stars listed includes Newcastle defender Chancel Mbemba, Norwich City duo Youssouf Mulumbu and Dieumerci Mbokani, and fit-again Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie.

Expectedly, goalkeeper Ley Matampi and defender Joel Kimwaki, who both starred as the country won the African Nations Championship (CHAN) for a second time last month, are in the squad.

DR Congo are currently third in Group B after a home win over Madagascar and a shock 2-0 defeat at Central African Republic in September.

CHAN winner Ibenge, who also guided DR Congo to third place at last year's Africa Cup of Nations in Equatorial Guinea, is desperate for positive results against group leaders Angola.

Only group winners are guaranteed automatic qualification to the tournament in Gabon.

The Leopards have also progressed to the final round of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup.

Provisional DR Congo squad:

Goalkeepers: Riffi Mandanda (Ajaccio, France), Ley Matampi (DCMP), Joel Kiassumba (FC Wohlen, Switzerland)

Defenders: Chancel Mbemba (Newcastle, England), Gabriel Zakuani (Peterborough, England), Wilson Kamakuaka (Sturm Graz, Austria), Junior Baometo (FC Saint Eloi Lupopo), Christopher Oualembo (Academia Coimbra, Portugal), Marcel Tisserand (Toulouse, France), Joel Kimwaki (TP Mazembe), Bobo Ungenda (Kabuscorp, Angola), Padou Bopunga and Joyce Lomalisa (Vita Club), Chris Mavinga (Troyes, France)

Midfielders: Youssouf Mulumbu (Norwich, England), Chikito Lema Mabidi (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Jordan Nkololo (Caen, France), Neeskens Kebano (Genk, Belgium), Nelson Munganga (Vita Club), Merveille Bope (TP Mazembe), Rémi Mulumba (FC Lorient, France), Litombo Bangala (DCMP), Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City, England)

Forwards: Cédric Bakambu (Villarreal, Spain), Dieumerci Mbokani (Norwich, England), Benik Afobe (Bournemouth, England), Yannick Bolasie (Crystal Palace, England), Paul-José Mpoku (Chievo Verona, Italy), Firmin Mubele Ndombe (Al Ahli Doha, Qatar), Cedric Mabwati (Columbus Crew, USA), Jonathan Bolingi and Meschack Elia (TP Mazembe)

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