Congo v DR Congo
DR Congo will be without injured skipper Youssouf Mulumbu, who also missed the final group game against Tunisia with a hamstring injury.
They qualified with three draws and know they must be more clinical to progress further in the competition.
Congo hope coach Claude LeRoy’s two stints as DR Congo coach will give them some inside knowledge and an advantage.
LeRoy is in confident mood: “Our potential, talent, vigour make us a good bet for the semi-finals.”
It will be the first meeting between the two neighbours in 41 years when Congo beat DR Congo (then Zaire) 2-1 in Alexandria, Egypt.
And historically there has been a frosty relationship between the two countries. There are many families separated on either side of the border and there are political difficulties.
It adds to the rivalry between the teams of the two countries and DR Congo midfielder Neeskens Kebano believes their encounter on Saturday will be “the match of the tournament”.
Coach Florent Ibenge, who is also in charge of AS Vita Club – the big club in Kinshasa – added: “We are the same country separated by a river. We know our brothers, we are the same people, the same lives.
“We qualified with a lot of difficulties as we as were the 16th team to get here. Everybody thought we would be eliminated but we are still here.
“They have a good team with a good and experienced coach. We just hope we don’t go behind and have to chase the game as we did against Tunisia.”
Congo are living a charmed life, having been reinstated in the competition only after Rwanda were disqualified for fielding an ineligible player.
The Red Devils then qualified for the finals ahead of champions Nigeria and finished top of Group A after a 15-year absence from the tournament.
Two years ago at the last finals in South Africa, LeRoy failed to get past the first round with DR Congo. But he expects them to give his current side a stern test.
“I was in charge of DR Congo – we know the team perfectly, but they know us perfectly as well, so there is a good balance between the two sides.
“I have talked for months about the quality of this Congo team – their fighting spirit. They are at a very good level in terms of thinking of the games, tactically and technically. It is a huge pleasure.
“We have arrived at this level not by chance. We have the best qualifying record after the first round. That is the beginning of a good performance. Now we want to pass a new step. We know it will be very difficult against DR Congo but we are ready.”
- This will be only the second time Congo Brazzaville have featured in an Afcon quarter-final after losing 2-1 to Ghana in Senegal 23 years ago
- DR Congo have reached the Afcon quarter-finals five times and their lone success came 17 years ago when they shocked Cameroon 1-0 in Burkina Faso
- Group B runners-up DR Congo this week became only the third country after Guinea (2015) and Mali (1972) to reach the knockout stage without winning
- any of their three group games
- The African neighbours have met three times in Afcon DR Congo winning 3-0 in 1968 and 2-0 in 1972 before Congo turned the tables in 1974 with a 2-1 victory
- Fifa rankings suggest a close encounter with DR Congo (13-57) just two places ahead of Congo (15-61) in Africa and four ahead in the world.
Article source: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/0/football/30963458
January 31st, 2015