Congo coach, Claude Leroy, has announced a formidable 23-man squad dominated by 11 foreign-based professionals for a final round of CAF Under-23 Championship qualifier against Nigeria. The first leg of the match will be played on July 19 in the southern Nigeria city of Port Harcourt.
Congo eliminated highly fancied Ghana to set up a clash with Nigeria’s Dream Team VI led by coach Samson Siasia. The Congo pros include midfielders Philzgérarld Mbaka (Getafe), Juvrel Loumingou (Châteauroux), Ravy Tsouka (Crotone) as well as strikers Mavis Tchibota Dufounou (Maccabbi Tel Aviv), Kevin Xavier Brandon Koubemba (Lille) and Ulrich Poutou (Chambly).
Leroy would have listed more pros but their foreign clubs refused to release them for the match These players are Hardy Binguila and Charvely Mabiala (Auxerre), Randi Goteni (Troyes), Yohan Andzouana and Dylan Bahamboula (AS Monaco), Yann Mabella and Tobias Badila (Nancy) and Jusly Gitel Boukama- Kaya (Recreativo/ Angola).
The 39-man pre-list was trimmed down to 23, with Leroy deciding to leave out several local talents including Kader Bidimbou and Dua Ankira (AC Léopards) Grâce Mamic Itoua (Diables Noirs), Amour Loussoukou (Cara), Issambet Saira (Etoile du Congo), Kaya Makosso (Carpe) and goalkeeper Joe Ombandza (AS Kondzo).
The Congo U23 will resume a training camp in Pointe-Noire on July 12, a week to the epic clash in Nigeria. The ‘Diables Rouges’ will welcome Nigeria to Pointe-Noire on August 2 for the return leg with the overall winners advancing to the final tournament in Senegal in November. The top three teams in Senegal will automatically qualify for next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.