Kinshasa will come to a standstill this Saturday evening when the Democratic Republic of Congo welcome Congo to the Stade des Martyrs in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier, that is set to grip either side of the continent’s second largest river.
The 80 000 seater is set to be filled to capacity with the two teams out to get their campaign off to a winning start.
Two-time AFCON champions, DR Congo, have qualified for the continent’s showpiece on 18 previous occasions – including the last three editions, losing to Ghana in the quarterfinal stage last year.
The Leopards, though, are desperate for success and are long overdue considering not only the strength of the national team, but also the club sides with TP Mazembe and AS Vita well known entities in Africa.
Florent Ibengé will have to continue doing without Everton winger Yannick Bolasie who is yet to recover from a long term injury, but the arrival on Benik Afobe on the national stage – the Bournemouth forward found the back of the net on his debut – has the DR Congo faithful excited.
Backed up by Cédric Bakambu, Chancel Mbemba and Jonathan Bolingi among others, the Leopards are a force to be reckoned with.
Congo-Brazzaville – 1972 champions – failed to qualify for last years tournament in Gabon, but Diables Rouges have been to seven AFCON tournaments in total.
They two have several exciting prospects in their ranks, but paired with Liberia, Zimbabwe and their neighbour rivals in Group G – Congo will have to be at their brilliant best.
DR Congo currently occupy 39th spot on the latest FIFA World Rankings, with Congo down in 85th spot.
In 27 previous meetings, DR Congo have accumulated 11 wins – suffering 9 defeats in what is usually a tightly contested dual. The match-up averages 3 goals a game.
Kick-off is set for 17h30 GMT.