DRC seal knockout berth
Polokwane - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have booked their place in the CHAN last eight with a 2-1 win over Burundi at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Wednesday night.
The result sees Burundi bowing out of the competition despite a brave showing which saw them picking up four points.
The first half was action packed and end-to-end with both sides showing their attacking intent and matching that with some incisive play when going forward.
After just five minutes the ball was in the back of the Burundi net when keeper Arthur Arakaza spilled a low hard drive from Eric Nkulukuta, the follow up from Jean-Marc Mundele being deemed off-sides.
Two minutes later and the woodwork was tested when TP Mazembe defender Jean Kasusula swung a superb left-footed free kick onto the cross-bar with Arakaza well beaten.
It was against the run of play that the Swallows of Burundi were to take the lead after 15 minutes, Abdul Fiston passing the ball to Selemani Yamini on the left hand side just outside the box, the captain taking a touch before sliding a perfect shot past Arakaza.
The action was coming thick and fast and three minutes later the Leopards had a penalty after Fiston tangled with Thierry Kasereka on the edge of the box in what appeared a harsh decision.
But there was no equaliser as Burundi keeper Arakaza guessed the right way, making an excellent save to keep out Mundele.
But Mundele was to redeem himself in the 25th minute, taking down a long ball between two defenders before showing excellent touch to keep his 18-yard volley under the crossbar.
The same player was then to give the central African nation a deserved 2-1 lead when he turned the ball home from close range after some terrible defending by both Hakizimana Hassan and Hakizimana Issa.
The second stanza came nowhere near to matching the goalmouth excitement of the first.
Chances were few and far between at both ends, with some over-the-top challenges causing regular stoppages to play and making for a scrappy contest. A couple of players were perhaps lucky to have remained on the field as some nasty and reckless tackles went in.
The DRC were however for the most part in control, happy to sit on their lead while looking to capitalise when chances did emerge.
But for all the hard-running of the impressive Mundele, they were unable to really threaten their opponents' goals.
Burundi meanwhile grew increasingly frustrated as they failed to find penetration while on attack, the likes of Fiston having to resort to long range efforts which were wayward, enabling the Republic of Congo to play out the match with relative ease.