Lomana LuaLua says that a thigh injury meant he had to miss the DR Congo's 1-0 over South Africa in a 2006 World Cup qualifier.
The DR Congo's Lomana LuaLua has a thigh injury
The Portsmouth striker was criticised by the Simba's manager, Claude Leroy, for failing to turn up for the match in Kinshasa.
The 24-year-old said that he was worried about making the injury worse by playing for the DR Congo.
"I was supposed to travel, I know I'm a key player for my country but I couldn't go and make the injury worse," LuaLua explained to BBC Sport.
"I wasn't even sure what the problem was, at first I thought it was a groin problem but the specialist said it was the thigh.
"I need to make sure that when I'm on the pitch I'm 100 per cent fit."
He also said that he needs to speak to Leroy to explain what happened.
"I haven't spoken to Leroy yet but I need to explain the situation and tell him that I need to get fit."
At one point it was feared that the problem may need an operation but that has now been ruled out.