Alan Stubbs today insisted Dominique Malonga’s latest tour of duty with Congo wasn’t a waste of time even though the Hibs striker travelled more than 10,000 miles and didn’t play one minute of football.
Malonga was proud to be recalled to the African nation’s squad for their World Cup double-header against Ethiopa which involved flying to Addis Ababa, on to Brazzaville and back to Edinburgh. He reported back to Hibs’ East Mains training ground delighted Congo had made it to the group stage of their qualifying campaign for Russia 2018 having won both matches against Ethiopia with a 6-4 aggregate, but bitterly disappointed to have been an unused substitute throughout.
However, Stubbs believes Hibs could benefit from that body blow as Malonga seeks to impress Congo’s new manager, their last boss, Frenchman Claude LeRoy, having quit immediately after the second victory over Ethiopia.
And he believes Paris-born Malonga will happily answer any future call from his adopted country – and the striker would go with the Easter Road head coach’s blessing.
He said: “Dom was happy to be back in the squad but with ten substitutes listed for each of the games and only three to be used, it was always going to be difficult. Dom was still hoping to play some part in the games so he’s naturally disappointed to have travelled so far not to be involved.
“From what I gather that was the Congo coach’s last game so Dom will be looking to impress the new coach, whoever that’s going to be. Ten thousand miles was a long way to go but I feel he’d be prepared to keep doing that and I’d never stand in the way of anyone if they are called up whether they have a realistic chance or not of playing.
“It’s a great honour to be called up by your country and we’d always support him.”
Malonga returned to undertake a light training session on Thursday before working out with his team-mates yesterday in readiness for today’s Championship clash away to Alloa and Stubbs is looking for him to pick up where he left off.
He said: “I think Dom’s performances have been good. He has contributed significantly in games without probably getting the headlines that Jason Cummings and James Keatings have had over the last few weeks. But I have been pleased with his performances.”
Meanwhile, Stubbs has warned his players that if they want to enjoy a break, given Hibs aren’t back in action for a fortnight after today’s match, they’ll have to earn it at the Indodrill Stadium.
He said: “There’s a good chance if we get result at Alloa that they’ll get a bit of time off. But it’s all depending, and I’ve told them, on whether they get a result or not. We have chance to do that with no game the following week.” but I do not want the attention to get away from those three points today.”