Africa Cup of Nations: Giannelli Imbula awaits clearnce to play for DR Congo

Stoke City midfielder Giannelli Imbula
Stoke City's Giannelli Imbula has spent the season on loan in Spain with Rayo Vallecano

Former France youth international Giannelli Imbula is waiting for clearance from Fifa in order to play for DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Imbula has been included in DR Congo's 32-man provisional squad for next month's finals in Egypt.

The 26-year-old midfielder, who spent the season on loan at Spanish club Rayo Vallencano from parent club Stoke City, was born in Belgium and raised in France.

He is eligible to play for the Leopards through his parents who were born in DR Congo.

But football's world governing body has confirmed "that at the time of writing, Fifa has not been contacted in relation to the topic you mention."

Imbula had previously rejected several opportunities to switch his allegiance from France and earlier in the week seemed to indicate he could play for the Leopards.

He featured 22 times as Rayo Vallecano finished bottom of La Liga but has played only two league games in the last three months.

TP Mazembe's Jackson Muleka, top scorer in this season's Congolese top tier, has also been handed his first call up by coach Ibenge.

Romania-based goalkeeper Perfect Mandanda, brother of France international keeper Steve Mandanda, returns to the squad after long absence.

Yannick Bolasie, Cederic Bakambu and Tresor Mputu are among the key players included.

But veteran striker Dieumerci Mbokani is among the big names missing, along with winger Gael Kakuta.

DR Congo are in Group A alongside hosts Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe, and will be based in Cairo.

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.

Provisional squad:

Goalkeepers: Auguy Kalambayi (Sanga Balende,) Parfait Mandanda (Dinamo Bucharest, Romania), Anthony Mossi (Chiasso FC, Switzerland), Ley Matampi Vumi (Al Ansar Club Medina, Saudi Arabia)

Defenders: Padou Bompunga, Djuma Shabani and Glody Ngonda Muzinga (all three AS Vita Club), Issama Mpeko (TP Mazembe), Christian Luyindama Nekadio (Galatasaray, Turkey), Arthur Masuaku (West Ham, England), Wilfred Moke Abro (MKA Ankaragucu, Turkey), Fabrice N'sakala (Alanyaspor, Turkey), Marcel Tisserand (Wolfsburg, Germany), Merveille Bope Bokadi (Standard Liege, Belgium), Beaudrick Ungenda (Primeiro Do Agosto, Angola)

Midfielders: Chadrac Akolo (Stuttgart, Germany), Paul-Jose Mpoku (Standard Liege, Belgium), Giannelli Imbula (Rayo Vallencano, Spain), Chancel Mbemba Mangulu (Porto, Portugal), Tresor Mputu (TP Mazembe), Youssouf Mulumbu and Aaron Tshibola (both Kilmanarnock, Scotland), Nelson Omba Munganga (AS Vita Club), Fabrice Luamba Ngoma (Raja Casablanca, Morocco), Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham city, England)

Forwards: Britt Assombalonga (Middlesbrough, England), Cederic Bakambu (Beijing Guoan, China), Yannick Bolasie (Everton, England), Jonathan Bolingi Mpangi (Antwerp, Belgium), Elia Lina Meschack and Jackson Muleka (both TP Mazembe), Kabongo Kasongo (Wahda Club, Saudi Arabia)

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