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By ESPN Staff

FIFA tell Congo they cannot play French-born pair

JOHANNESBURG, Sept 1 (Reuters) - FIFA have told Congo they cannot use two former French under-21 internationals in their African Nations Cup qualifier against South Africa in Johannesburg on Saturday.

Both Christian Bassila and Matt Moussilou had played for France at under-21 level in competitive internationals but were drafted by new Congo coach Noel Tosi into his squad for the Group 11 match.

They also played earlier this week in a warm-up match in France against Ligue 1 club Paris St Germain.

Bassila, who left Sunderland for Greek club Larissa in the summer, and Moussilou, who signed for Nice from Lille, cannot play because they did not apply to FIFA for a change of their national status.

Both were born in Paris of Congolese parents but should have applied for the change in their national status before December 31, 2005.

FIFA spokesman Andreas Herren said Congo had been warned against using the pair on Thursday.

But the world body made no ruling about fullback Moke Kajima, who has been invited to play for the Congolese despite hailing from the neighbouring Democratic Republic of Congo.

Without an international cap at the age of 32, Kajima was suggested to Tosi by Congo's first choice goalkeeper Barel Mouko, who is his former club mate at French Ligue 2 club Dijon.

FIFA rules say players cannot take up the nationality of a country unless they can prove some family connection or have resided in the country for an unbroken period of at least two years.

Tosi, who comes from France, was widely criticised in 2003 when as coach of Mauritania at the start of the 2006 World Cup qualifiers, he persuaded authorities to issue passports to four players from his former club Creteil in a preliminary round qualifying tie against Zimbabwe.

The quartet of French nationals were flown in for both legs of the qualifying tie, which Mauritania lost on aggregate but no sanctions were imposed.