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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 December 2005, 14:26 GMT
LuaLua answers African Cup call
Portsmouth striker Lomano Lua Lua
African Nations Cup commitments will deprive Portsmouth's new manager of striker Lomano LuaLua for six matches.

Alain Perrin's replacement will also be without Senegal midfielders Salif Diao and Aliou Cisse, and Zambia striker Collins Mbesuma.

LuaLua, 24, wants to represent the DR Congo in the tournament which starts in Egypt in January.

He said: "I could be leaving Portsmouth in an awkward position but representing my country means everything to me."

Portsmouth are currently in the Premiership's bottom three but LuaLua said: "Hopefully the team will be in a much better position by the time the cup comes round. Then I can leave without too much fretting.

"People keep asking me whether I will be going to the African Cup of Nations and that is certainly the aim."

LuaLua spent two months out of action after contracting malaria after returning to Africa for World Cup qualifier duty with DR Congo.

Diao, currently on a season-long loan from Liverpool, is almost certain to start for Senegal, having been a regular in recent seasons.

Former Senegal captain Cisse has slipped to the fringe of the squad after failing to nail down a regular place at either Portsmouth or previous club Birmingham.

Mbesuma, who arrived at Fratton Park from South African club Kaiser Chiefs, is a key player for Zambia, despite not yet having made his Premiership debut for Pompey.

Pompey's African contingent could miss the Premiership games against Birmingham, Bolton, Newcastle and Manchester United, as well as the FA Cup third round tie at Ipswich.

If the countries insist on having their players from January 10, the Portsmouth players will also miss the visit of Everton to Fratton Park.


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