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Nigeria’s possible World Cup play-off opponents, DR Congo open camp in Egypt

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While major attention in Africa is centred on preparations for the Africa Cup of Nations which begins in Cameroon in 11 days’ time, DR Congo, the only team Afcon absentee team among the 10 contestants for the World Cup qualification is focusing on the global tournament.

Being outside the top five seeded teams, Congo DR is a possible opponent for Nigeria when the draw for the World Cup draw is made on January 26.

Already, the coach, Hector Cuper has drafted 27 players who began camping in Egypt on Monday 27 December.

The move is linked with crunch 2022 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers – Africa Zone expected in March 2022.

The squad, exclusively constituted by Africa-based players, is led by TP Mazembe’s star skipper Tresor Mputu Mabi.

The 36-year-old Mputu, capped 51 times with the senior men’s national team, is one of eight midfielders retained by Héctor for the mission.

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The camp is scheduled to run through December 27 to January 8, 2022.

During this time, the Leopards are expected to play two friendly games against local teams. Another session – billed for the second week of January – will involve overseas players.

Absent for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon, the DR Congo is no doubt making the most out of the FIFA window, as well as optimising chances of a breakthrough to Qatar 2022.

The Central Africans are among the ten nations left to battle for the continent’s five World Cup tickets.

DR Congo last featured at the global stage in 1974 in Germany. They have never been closer to a second berth like this time.

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Full squad:

Lomboto Herve (DC Motema Pembe), Siadi Ngusia Baggio (TP Mazembe), Pululu Kingu (FC Renaissance), MUKOKO Amale Dieumerci (Difaa El Jadida), Djuma Shabani Wadol (Young Africa), Simete Taboria Ordy (AS Maniema Union), Zola Kiaku Arsene (TP Mazembe), Boka Issaka Chadrack (FC Saint Eloi Lupopo), Nsita Ernest (TP Mazembe), Kayembe Christian (DC Motema Pembe), Mundeko Zatu Kevin (TP Mazembe), Bangala Litombo Yannick (Young Africa), Masasi Obenza Amede (AS V.CLUB), Kimvuidi Kiekie Karim (DC Motema Pembe), Mika Miche (TP Mazembe), Ngoma Luamba Fabrice (Raja Casablanca), Mukoko Tonombe (Young Africa), Lilepo Makabi Glody (AS Vita Club), Mpia Nzengeli Maxi (AS Maniema Union), Ikangalombo Jonathan (DC Motema Pembe), Ngimbi Vumbi Mercey (TP Mazembe), Kabungu Kadima John’s (FC Saint Eloi Lupopo), Kitwa Kalowa Rodrigue (AS Maniema Union), Muzungu Lokombe Chadrack (RS Berkane), Bossu Nzali Adam (TP Mazembe), BILEKO Mbaki Kelvin (TP Mazembe), Mputu Mabi Tresor (TP Mazembe)

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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