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Profiling the AFCON teams: DR Congo

DRC has featured in 18 AFCON finals. (PHOTOS/AGENCIES)

DR Congo will be featuring in their 19th Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) tournament and their 4th in a raw since 2013. They have won the tournament on two occasions (1968 and 1974).

In the 2019 edition, DR Congo is in Group A alongside hosts Egypt, Uganda and Zimbabwe.

DRC did not take part in the first four AFCON tournaments as they never participated in the qualifiers.

Their first finals’ tournament was the one in 1965 in Tunisia. They were placed in Group B alongside Ghana and Ivory Coast, finishing bottom of the pile with two losses and hence eliminated.

In the next edition in 1968, DR Congo would put its 1965 misery and win their maiden AFCON tournament. Finishing second in Group B, DRC defeated Ethiopia 3-2 in extra time in the semis and went on to scrap past Ghana 1-0 in the final.

Entering the 1970 edition as Champions, DR Congo were eliminated from the competition in humiliating fashion, finishing bottom of Group B with one point from three games.

In Cameroon 72, DR Congo ensured they bettered their past tournament’s result as they topped Group A which included Congo, Morocco and Sudan. However, the dream of a second championship was ended by Mali who defeated them 4-3 in the semifinals. DR Congo would eventually finish 4th in the competition following a 5-2 loss to Cameroon in the third place playoff game.

Their second title would eventually be sealed in the 1974 edition in Egypt. DR Congo finished second of Group B behind Congo to set up a semifinal clash with the hosts. DRC took care of the Egyptians 3-2 and went on to seal the title thanks to a 2-0 victory over Zambia in the final’s replay after the two sides had drawn 2-2 in the first game.

DRC sealed their second AFCON victory in the 1974 edition.

In the 1976 edition in Ethiopia, for the second time DRC failed to defend their title as they exited the tournament at the group stage.

For the next three editions, they did not take part as they turned down a chance to qualify for the 78 edition and failed to qualify for that of 1980 and 82. The trend continued for the next two editions in 84 and.

DRC’s next appearance at the finals was in Morocco, 88. Their tournament ended early as they exited at the Group stages after finishing bottom of Group B.

In 1990, DRC failed to qualify for the finals tournament but made amends in 92 a they finished second in group B, only to lose 1-0 to Nigeria in the quarter finals.

The trend of finishing in the quarters continued in both the 94 edition and that of South Africa, 96.

In 98, they would reach the last four for the first time since their second championship in 1974. After finishing second in Group B, DRC went on to defeat Cameroon 1-0 in the quarter finals. In the semis, they lost 2-1 to South Africa before sealing third spot following a penalty shoot-out victory over Burkina Faso.

In the 2000 edition, DRC once again failed to get past the group stages as they finished third in Group B that featured South Africa, Algeria and Gabon.

DRC would however go one better in the 2002 edition in Mali. They qualified from Group C as runners ups to Cameroon before losing 2-0 to eventual finalists Senegal in the quarter finals.

DRC has been eliminated at the quarter final stage on 6 different occasions.

2004 was another miserable edition for DRC as they finished bottom of Group A, having lost all their three games.

In 2006, they once again reached the quarter once again, the first time since 2002. They finished second in group B behind Cameroon. They then went on to lose 4-1 in the last 8 to eventual Champions Egypt.

For the next three editions in 08, 10 and 12, DRC failed to qualify for the AFCON finals.

Their next participation at the finals came in 2013 in South Africa. However, DRC was eliminated at the Group stages after finishing third in Group B, behind Mali and Ghana.

For the 2015 edition in Equatorial Guinea, DRC would finish third, their best finish at the finals since 1998. In the Group, the finished second behind Tunisia in Group B. At the last 8, they defeated Congo 4-1 and set up a semifinal with Ivory Coast. However, they lost 3-1 and then defeated the hosts on penalties to finish third.

The 2017 edition was one that once again saw DRC exit the competition at the quarter final stage. After topping Group A with 7 points, they would however lose 1-2 to Ghana in the last 8.

Coach

Jean-Florent Ikwange Ibengé 

Ibenge is a 57 Congolese tactician who was handed the DRC National team head coach role in 2014. He was born in December 1961.

He was manager of Chinese club Shanghai Shenhua from April to May 2012, and of Congolese team Vita Club from February 2014.He became manager of the DRC in August 2014, combining this role with his job at Vita Club.

Ibanga has been DRC’s head coach since 2014.

Star Player

Yannick Bolasie  

Bolasie is a professional footballer who plays as a winger Anderlecht on loan from Premier League Club Everton.

The 30 year old has managed over 350 appearances for 9 different clubs for whom he has scored 34 goals. For DRC, he has managed 33 appearances since making his debut in 2013, scoring 9 goals.

He is a player blessed with blistering pace and can hurt any defender on a given day. He is one of the players expected to light-up the 2019 AFCON.

Bolasie made his debut for DRC in 2013.

Projection: Quarter finals

Egypt Fixtures at AFON 2019

-Uganda vs DR Congo, 21st June

-DR Congo vs Egypt, 26th June

-DR Congo vs Zimbabwe, 30th June

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