Afobe turns down DR Congo to stay with Bournemouth
Bournemouth striker Benik Afobe has turned down the opportunity to represent DR Congo at the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations.
The 23-year-old was named in DR Congo’s provisional squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, but has decided to choose club over country, the Congolese Football Federation has confirmed.
Afobe’s forfeit is massive blow for Congo as they are already without Everton’s winger Yannick Bolasie, who wasn’t included in the squad due to injury.
“For the last couple of months I have been talking to my family and thinking about what is best for my development,” Afobe told Bournemouth official website.
“I have a lot of respect for everyone at DR Congo: the staff there, the players and fans. It’s a massive tournament for everyone, but thinking about my development and being at this stage in my career where I’m trying to establish myself in my first full Premier League season, I just want to keep improving.
“I have a great opportunity here now and I think by going away and missing six or seven weeks it could hamper my season personally and for the team,” Afobe added.
The former Arsenal striker is yet to make his senior international debut after he switched allegiance to Congo in March 2016, but he has revealed that he is going to watch Congo’s every game in the AFCON.
“I spoke to the manager Florent Ibenge over the phone and that’s something I wanted to do myself to show respect. We spoke and he said that he understood,” he continued.
“He said he was a player himself and that he understands the situation I am in, he hopes that I can keep improving and getting more minutes with Bournemouth.
“Everything’s been left in a good way and I’ll be watching every game the team play in the tournament and hoping to do as well as possible.
“It was a honour for me to be considered in the provisional squad and I look forward to representing DR Congo in the future,” Afobe concluded.
Congo was drawn in group C alongside Ivory Coast, Morocco, and Togo, with the top two teams from the group advance to the quarter-finals.
They will kick off their campaign against Morocco on January 16, then head on to face Ivory Coast and Togo on the 20th and the 24th respectively.
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