Imbula finally set to make DR Congo debut

Giannelli Imbula
Giannelli Imbula (right) spent last season on loan with La Liga side Rayo Vallecano

Midfielder Giannelli Imbula is set to make his long-awaited debut for DR Congo later this month after receiving international clearance from Fifa.

The former France youth international, who was born in Belgium, is eligible to play for the Leopards through his parents.

Imbula was part of a 32-man provisional squad named by then coach Florent Ibenge for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt but missed out on selection for the finals because of a delay with his paperwork from Fifa.

The 27-year-old will now join up with the 26-man squad selected by new coach Christian Nsengi-Biembe for the friendlies against Algeria in Blida on 10 October and Ivory Coast four days later in France.

A Fifa spokesman confirmed to BBC Sport that "a decision was rendered by the single judge of the player status committee on 11 June authorising Imbula to represent DR Congo as of 12 June."

Imbula, who joined Serie A side Lecce on loan in August from parent club Stoke City, spent last season with Spanish side Rayo Vallecano, featuring 22 times as the club finished bottom of La Liga.

Nantes midfielder Samuel Moutoussamy, who was born in France to a Guadeloupean father and Congolese mother, uncapped TP Mazembe striker Jackson Muleka, who turns 20 on 4 October, and under-23 international Edo Kayembe could also make their senior debuts.

There are recalls for veteran striker Dieumerci Mbokani, Gael Kakuta and Neeskens Kebano, who were all left out of the Leopards' final Afcon squad.

But coach Nsengi has also wielded the axe, leaving out nine members of that squad following the second round loss to Madagascar on penalties.

The players to miss out are: goalkeeper Ley Matampi; defenders Djuma Shabani, Issama Mpeko and Bobo Ungenda; midfielders Tresor Mputu Mabi and Youssouf Mulumbu; strikers Britt Assombalonga, Jonathan Bolingi and Elia Lina Meschack.

The full squad:

Goalkeepers: Parfait Mandanda (Royal Charleroi, Belgium), Anthony Mossi (Chiasso FC, Switzerland), Jackson Lunaga (AS Vita Club)

Defenders: Jordan Botaka (Sint-Truiden, Belgium), Jordan Ikoko (Ludogorets, Bulgaria), Christian Luyindama (Galatasaray, Turkey), Wilfred Moke (MKE Ankaragucu, Turkey), Kelvin Mundeko (TP Mazembe), Marcel Tisserand (Wolfsburg, Germany), Chancel Mbemba (FC Porto, Portugal), Ava Dongo (AS Vita Club), Arthur Masuaku (West Ham United, England), Glody Ngonda (Dijon, France)

Midfielders: Merveille Bope and Paul-Jose Mpoku (Standard Liege, Belgium); Jacques Maghoma (Birmingham City, England), Edo Kayembe (Anderlecht, Belgium), Giannelli Imbula (Lecce, Italy), Samuel Moutoussamy (Nantes, France), Gael Kakuta (Amiens FC, France), Neeskens Kebano (Fulham, England)

Forwards: Chadrac Akolo (Amiens FC, France), Yannick Bolasie (Sporting Lisbon, Portugal), Dieumerci Mbokani (Royal Antwerp, Belgium), Cedric Bakambu (Beijing Guoan, China), Jackson Muleka (TP Mazembe)