Polokwane - The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) have kicked off their 2014 African Nations Championship campaign with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Mauritania in Polokwane on Tuesday evening.
The first half was dominated mainly by the DRC, who had several decent chances to score.
Overall, it was an entertaining first 45 minutes which saw both teams intent on attacking, although the quality was lacking in and around the box.
Ten minutes into the match, the DRC had the first good chance of the game, when Eddy Omomo flashed a header just wide of goal.
Mauritania were able to carve out some good opportunities on the counter-attack, one of which saw Khalil Moulaye surging through the middle of the field before, sending a slicing 30-yard drive just over goal.
DRC were closest to netting in the opening stanza when Mbidi Mavuanga picked out the head of Lusadisu Basisila, but his 38th minute effort struck the outside of the upright with goalkeeper Brahim Souleymane scrambling to make the ground.
Two minutes later, the central African side survived a scare when Mauritania striker Ely El Voullany sprinted through on goal, rounding keeper Robert Kidiaba before sending, what he thought would be a parting shot into goal, only to see defender Joel Kimuaki Mpela making a spectacular goal-line clearance.
The action continued, this time at the other end when Omomo turned and shot from the edge of the box, his rasping left-footer going just wide of the near post.
Four minutes after the restart, a clumsy challenge inside the six-yard box by Mauritania defender Wade Mohamed on DRC attacker Mubele Ndombe lead to Algerian referee Mohamed Bengouza pointing to the spot.
Omomo stepped up to take the penalty, sending Souleymane the wrong way to put the DRC 1-0 up on 50 minutes.
The game remained tightly contested with little to separate the two sides until Les Mourabitones captain Moussa Baghayoko had a rush of blood to the head and was given his marching orders after a vicious tackle earned him a second yellow card with 16 minutes still to play.
The final 10 minutes saw Mauritania pushing for an equaliser, but they created nothing more than half chances as the DRC held on fairly comfortably for the victory.