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Last Updated: Friday, 7 October 2005, 10:34 GMT 11:34 UK
LuaLua upset at missing qualifier
The DR Congo and Portsmouth's Lomana LuaLua
The DR Congo's Lomana LuaLua is recovering from malaria
DR Congo striker Lomana LuaLua says he is devastated that malaria has denied him the chance to fire his country into their first World Cup finals.

LuaLua picked up the disease during a trip to his homeland to play in the last round of qualifying matches.

The 24-year-old, who plays for English Premiership side Portsmouth, spent a week on an intensive care ward in hospital after collapsing at home.

The illness, which also forced LuaLua to miss Portsmouth's match against former club Newcastle last weekend, has prevented him from travelling with the Simbas for this weekend's crucial qualifying game with South Africa.

LuaLua said: "I'm devastated really. The World Cup is the greatest football tournament in the world and if Congo qualified it would be the biggest sporting achievement in our history.

"I would love to be a part of things, especially after being involved in most of the other qualifiers.

"Obviously as a footballer you do not want to miss any game but this one is more important than any I have ever played in before, certainly for Congo.

"We're only a small country and to be in with chance of qualifying is fantastic. If I had my way I would be out there but the doctors have ordered me to put my feet up.

"I've been at home recuperating for the past week and am feeling much fitter. Hopefully I will be back in training within the next fortnight.

"Then hopefully it will not be too long until I am back out there again. I am itching to start kicking a ball."

LuaLua will keep track of his fellow countrymen's fortunes via the internet as he continues his recovery.

The DR Congo need a convincing win in Durban and hope group leaders Ghana lose against Cape Verde Islands to stand any chance of booking their place in Germany next summer.

Portsmouth to rally for LuaLua
29 Sep 05 |  African
LuaLua plays down malaria reports
29 Sep 05 |  Portsmouth
2006 World Cup tables
04 Sep 05 |  African


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