DR Congo will have to do without Stoke City midfielder Gianelli Imbula after he was left out of the Africa Cup of Nations squad due to a late clearance by FIFA.

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.

In a statement on social media, Imbula said: "It is with a mixture of sadness and anger that I write these few lines,"


"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.

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