Hibs striker could kick off Africa Cup of Nations

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Hibs striker Dominique Malonga could feature in the curtain-raising match of the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.

The 25-year-old made his debut for Congo against Sudan last month as they secured their place at the finals in Equatorial Guinea early in the new year.

Yesterday’s draw pitted Congo in Group A alongside Gabon, Burkina Faso and Equatorial Guinea, with Malonga’s nation due to open Africa’s showpiece tournament against the hosts on January 17.

That game comes exactly a fortnight after Hibs’ January 3 visit to Hearts, which is expected to be the forward’s last match for the Easter Road side before heading off to join up with his international colleagues. The favourable draw Congo have landed also increases their chances of progressing in the tournament and Malonga subsequently missing more games for Hibs.

The former Torino and Cesena striker is the Easter Road side’s top scorer with nine goals to his name this season, although he is suspended for this Saturday’s Championship trip to Falkirk after being sent off late in the Scottish Cup victory at Alloa last weekend.

The most eye-catching section of the Africa Cup of Nations is Group C, where heavyweights Ghana, Senegal, South Africa and Algeria have been drawn together.