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Zola praise for defender Ilunga

PUBLISHED: 17:03 18 February 2009 | UPDATED: 14:04 05 October 2010

Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola has hailed Herita Ilunga as one of the Premier League's leading left-backs

Hammers boss Gianfranco Zola has hailed Herita Ilunga as one of the Premier League's leading left-backs after the defender kept West Ham's FA Cup dream alive with a crucial late goal last weekend.

In-form Ilunga headed his second goal for the club seven minutes from time to salvage a replay in last weekend's fifth-round meeting with Middlesbrough at Upton Park.

The Congo ace is due to join the Hammers on a permanent basis when his loan from Toulouse expires at the end of the season after the club agreed terms on a long-term deal with the defender last month.

And Zola admits he is delighted to that the full-back has opted to remain at the club following a successful debut campaign at Upton Park.

"He has signed a contract for four-and-half years so he will be with us for a long time," Zola said. "I don't think there are many left-backs playing as well he is."

The Italian also praised new signing Savio Nsereko, whose precise free-kick set up Ilunga's crucial equaliser.

"I see he has good qualities but he needs time to settle," Zola said.

"He has been playing in a second division team in Italy and you can't even imagine

the difference in speed from Serie B. The best is yet to come from him.

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