Peterborough United defender Gaby Zakuani has been called up by DR Congo for next years Africa Cup of Nations.
The 26 year-old central defender was voted last seasons Player of the Season but has struggled to break into the starting line-up this season following a change in formation and tactics.
He returned to the starting line-up in the recent narrow 3-2 defeat by Middlesbrough before being instrumental in last weekends deserved win over Championship table toppers Cardiff City in which he made an amazing headed goal-line clearance from Craig Bellamy.
Those two matches coincided with the DR Congo national coach casting his eye over Zakuani at both games.
The call up ends an incredible 10 days which has seen the fans favourite reclaim his place in the Posh starting line-up, beat Cardiff who had a 100% winning home record before hearing that his sister has beaten cancer.
Zakuani has just one cap to his name which came seven years ago against Guinea in August 2005. He will now be in contention for the three Africa Cup of Nations group games which kick off on 20th January, 2013.
The group games are scheduled for the following dates:
20/01/13: Ghana v DR Congo (1500)
24/01/13: Niger v DR Congo (1800)
28/01/13: DR Congo v Mali (1700 in Durban)
Although his call-up is excellent news, it will also come as a blow to Posh who will lose the influential defender for a number of weeks.
Speaking after receiving the news, Zakuani is hoping to leave for the competition at the last possible moment: ‘Hopefully I can get them to agree for Posh to release me later so I don’t miss too much’.
Chairman Darragh MacAnthony is happy for Zakuani but at the same time is not as excited about him missing some vital games for Posh: ‘Apparently could be quite a few [games he misses] so I’m not as excited by the news as the Skipper but congrats of course Gabs!’.
It’s not definite that Zakuani will be competing in the competition as he is one of 41 players named in the squad which must be reduced to 23 players before the start of the competition on January 19.
If he is one of the 23 players that make the final squad, he will definitely miss the home game with Hull City on 19th January and the away trip to the Reebok the following week when Posh face Bolton Wanderers.
Should DR Congo make it through their group games, the quarter finals are on 2rd and 3rd February meaning he will also miss the home match against Burnley. Success at that stage would mean he could also miss the home match with Leicester City on 9th February.
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