Impressive DR Congo ease into quarters

2017-01-25 06:24
AFCON 2015 (Supplied)
AFCON 2015 (Supplied)

Port-Gentil - Junior Kabananga set DR Congo on their way to a comfortable 3-1 win against Togo in Port-Gentil on Tuesday to clinch an Africa Cup of Nations quarter-finals spot.

Kabananga's opener came just before the half-hour mark and Neeskens Kebano ran through to increase the lead in the 54th minute.

Kodjo Fo-Doh Laba pulled one back for Togo but a Paul-Jose Mpoku free-kick with 10 minutes left completed the scoring as an impressive Congolese side secured first place in Group C.

They will now return to Oyem in northern Gabon for a quarter-final on Sunday, while Togo are eliminated after failing to win a game.

Morocco also go through after a 1-0 win over the Ivory Coast which knocked out the reigning champions.

"Having gone top of the group after two rounds of games we needed to remain vigilant and we did that," said DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge.

"They gave us a fright after we had gone 2-0 up and had we not matured as a team thanks to the two years we have spent together we might have panicked."

At the beginning of the night DR Congo, semi-finalists in 2015, knew a draw would be enough for them to clinch their place in the last eight while Togo had no choice but to win.

Togo coach Claude Le Roy left out veteran goalkeeper Kossi Agassa, judging him to be still too fragile mentally after his house in Lome was vandalised by fans who blamed him for the team's defeat to Morocco on Friday.

Baba Tchagouni got the nod in goal but he lasted just 23 minutes before having to be substituted after aggravating an injury suffered while making an early clearance.

On came Cedric Mensah, who plays in the French lower leagues, and he was soon picking the ball out of his net.

The impressive Chancel Mbemba slipped a pass through for the giant Kabananga, and he outpaced and outmuscled Serge Gakpe before slotting low past the 'keeper.

Kabananga almost scored again on the stroke of half-time, but his header from a Kebano corner looped up towards the far corner only to come back off the post.

The Leopards were only made to wait until nine minutes into the second half before increasing their lead, however.

A first-time hoof downfield by Marcel Tisserand completely caught out the Togolese defence and found Kebano in an onside position. He had the time to control before lobbing the ball over the stranded Mensah.

DR Congo then thought they had scored again but Jonathan Bolingi's effort was disallowed for offside.

Instead Togo gave hope to their sizeable support in the Gabonese port city when they pulled a goal back just past the midway point in the second half.

Skipper Emmanuel Adebayor and Floyd Ayite combined to set up Laba and the substitute finished low at the near post.

But DR Congo restored their two-goal advantage through Panathinaikos midfielder Mpoku, who came off the bench to curl a fine free-kick over the wall and in off the underside of the bar, the ball just crossing the line.

Read more on:    drc  |  afcon 2017  |  soccer

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