FORMER Town manager Mick Wadsworth has hit back at claims that his appointment as national coach of the Democratic Republic of Congo is an "insult" to the country's fans.
Wadsworth is deep into preperations for the African Nations Cup, which takes place in Tunisia from January 24 to February 14.
But the row over his arrival rumbles on, with both newspapers and prominent supporters suggesting Congolese football chiefs should have set their sights higher than an "English lower-division coach".
Town's relegation from Division II last season has been noted, but Wadsworth, who has also managed Carlisle, Scarborough, Colchester and Oldham insisted: "The outstanding issues at Huddersfield Town were not really to do with me.
"It was more to do with a club that was bankrupt and players not being paid.
"My record up to then, in 20 years of coaching, was very good and I also have plenty of experience in international coaching having been involved with the English FA for seven years."
The Congolese, now commonly known as the `Simbas' (the country was previously Zaire and the team the `Leopards'), have a rich reservoir of talent.
But they have often been let down by poor organisation from the capital Kinshasa.
Twice winners of the prestigious tournament as Zaire in 1968 and 1974, they are pitted against hosts Tunisia, newcomers Rwanda and Guinea in Group A.
Among their star strikers are France-based Shabani Nonda and Newcastle's Lomana Lua Lua, who played under Wadsworth at Colchester.
But there is a doubt about whether Lua Lua, signed by Newcastle on the advice of Wadsworth when he was coaching at St James' Park, will play in the tournament.
The 22-year-old said: "It depends on a number of factors.
"I just want to play football whenever and wherever I can, but I would rather it was with Newcastle."
Wadsworth's side open their campaign against Guinea in Tunis on January 25.
They play the hosts in Rades on January 28 and finish the group phase against Rwanda in Bizerte on February 1.
Sixteen nations will take part in the tournament, including minnows Benin, who caused a major upset by beating Zambia in a key qualifier.
Cameroon are the defending champions (from 2000) and are rated a good bet to win the Cup for the fifth time.