At The Offside Rule Podcast, we’ll be previewing the upcoming African Cup of Nations tournament every day this week, right here on our website.
Today we speak to Premier League footballer Youssouf Mulumbu about his own experiences of the tournament, including preparations with his own country, how far he can go and whether African football is continuing to grow.
The DR of Congo have a strong squad these days with several Premier League players like yourself and Yannick Bolasie, what’s the key to your potential success in 2015 and how determined are you to make up for the disappointment of missing out on several tournaments recently?
YM: To be fair we are still building a new team from the AFCON in 2013, we’ve added some new players like Bolasie, Kebano, Mabwati etc, and I think as a team we look really strong mentally and tactically on the pitch. We really want to go as far as possible in this competition and with our experienced players (Mbokani or Kidiaba) we’ve got some good leaders.
You’ll face two former winners in the group, how has the preparation gone so far for facing them?
YM: I know some teams like Tunisia or Zambia have got more experience than us but we have got some threat up front and we will use that to win the game, nothing will change, we just focus on our game.
There was obviously a late change in who would host the competition, how have you found training pitches and facilities so far in Equatorial Guinea?
YM: I know people will criticise because obviously Equatorial Guinea wasn’t ready to host this competition but credit to the country because they try to help African football and that’s something that needs to said. Cities like Bata and Malabo are more qualified to host the competition because they did it in 2012.
As someone who plays in the Premier League, do you think so many players now playing in England and Europe is helping African football?
YM: Of course the players who play in Europe and especially in the UK (best league in world!) will help to raise the level of the competition and then the African football this competition can show good African players to get into European teams now. Players like Brahimi or Yaya Toure who plays in one of the best teams in the world so the level change really quick in 10 years time.
What’s the atmosphere like for a player at the AFCON compared to a Premier League match? Do the fans really buy into the tournament?
YM: It’s a special feeling for an African player to represent his country I think all the players have got some pride. When you play in this competition everybody wants to show that his country is the best and I know DR Congo will show that we are one of the best countries in football actually.
Finally, what are your expectations as a team; do you take spirit from what Zambia managed to do?
YM: We just want to go as far as possible and we will because we believe in our team and every team mate helps each other, we can count on us for the AFCON 2015.
You can follow Youssouf on Twitter @mulumbuofficial
View our other AFCON 2015 previews right here!