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banner Wednesday, 17 October, 2001, 11:01 GMT 12:01 UK
DRC go for foreign stars
Lua Lua has featured a number of times in the Newcastle first team
Lua Lua has featured a number of times in the Newcastle first team
Newcastle United striker Lomana Tresor Lua Lua is among 44 players named by the Democratic Republic of Congo in a preliminary squad for the African Nations Cup finals in Mali in January.

The 20-year-old, who cost Newcastle 2.25m pounds from Colchester last year, was born in Kinshasa but moved to Britain as a young boy in 1989.

He has not played for the Congolese national side, despite the country having a heavy programme of African Nations Cup and World Cup qualifiers earlier this year, but his high-profile move to the north-east last season has attracted the attention of coach Louis Watunda.

Lua Lua was spotted at the age of 17 playing for Leyton College and taken to third division side Colchester, where he debuted in January 1999 and scored league goals the following season. He had several clubs chasing his signature before being bought by the Magpies.

Lembi is a key figure for the DRC
Lembi is a key figure for the DRC
A total of 15 foreign-based players are named. Surprising omissions include several likely Belgian-based candidates, as well as Jason Mayele of Italian club Cagliari, who captained the side earlier this year.

Nonda included

The list does include the French-based striker Shabani Nonda from Monaco.

Nzelo Lembi of Club Brugge, who has been the subject of recent transfer speculation involving both German and Italian clubs, is named along with Papy Kimoto from Lokeren and Marcel M'Bbayo of Genclerbirligi in Turkey.

The other European-based players are Essele Bakasu and Alexis Tekumu, who play in Germany and Switzerland respectively.

Watunda has also included exciting midfielder Kapela Mbiyavanga from Angolan club Petro Atletico, who have already qualified for the semi-finals of this year's African Champions League, and Mundaba Kisombe and Pathy Esengo from InterClube in Luanda.

Top striker Nonda is included
Top striker Nonda is included
Inter are heavily fancied to reach next month's African Cup Winners' Cup final after winning their semi-final, first leg match 3-0 at home to Kumbo Strikers of Cameroon last Saturday.

Mazembe influence wanes

Watunda's squad also includes two South African-based professionals plus Ngidi Yemweni, the former DC Motema Pembe striker now based in the Sudan.

The contingent of 29 locally-based players sees a drastic reduction in the number of players from defending national champions TP Mazembe.

The Lubumbashi side, who complete their Champions League commitments this weekend, provided the bulk of the players for the Congolese national side in recent matches, when Joseph Mukamba served as coach.

The TP Mazembe trainer is now the assistant to Watunda, serving his second spell with the Simbas.

DR Congo have been drawn in Group C of the Nations Cup, along with defending champions Cameroon, Cote d'Ivoire and Togo.

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