London - DR Congo international Benik Afobe says he turned down the opportunity to play in the 2017 AFCON to focus on his Bournemouth career.
The 23-year-old switched his allegiance two months ago opting to represent the DRC instead of England. Afobe was selected in the 31-man provisional squad set to do duty in Gabon, but withdrew from the squad just weeks before the tournament.
"For the last couple of months I have been talking to my family and thinking about what is best for my development," he told the club's official website.
"I have a lot of respect for everyone at DR Congo: the staff there, the players and fans.
"It's a massive tournament for everyone, but thinking about my development and being at this stage in my career, where I’m trying to establish myself in my first full Premier League season, I just want to keep improving.
"I have a great opportunity here now and I think, by going away and missing six or seven weeks, it could hamper my season personally and for the team.
"I spoke to the manager, Florent Ibenge, over the phone and that's something I wanted to do myself to show respect. We spoke and he said that he understood.
"He said he was a player himself and that he understands the situation I am in. He hopes that I can keep improving and getting more minutes with Bournemouth.
"Everything's been left in a good way and I'll be watching every game the team play in the tournament and hoping to do as well as possible.
"It was an honour for me to be considered in the provisional squad and I look forward to representing DR Congo in the future," he concluded.
The DR Congo kick start their AFCON campaign with a match against a strong Moroccan side on January 14 who themselves will be aiming to be crowned the champions of Africa.
kick off is at 21:00.