Leopards lock horns with Cranes as they kick off campaign

DR Congo Training-Official Training Session. AFCON Egypt 2019

DR Congo lock horns with Uganda as both sides kick off their Total Africa Cup of Nations Egypt 2019 campaign on Saturday (22 June 2019) at 16:30 local time (14:30 GMT) at Cairo International Stadium in the final match of Group A match day one.

Both teams aim for a positive start as they are looking forward to reaching the knockout stages.

DR Congo, two time champions (1986 and 1974) in their previous 18 appearances are hoping to do better than their quarter finals finish in 2017.

Head Coach Florent Ibenge depends on a mixture of young and experienced players led by veteran Tresor Mputu, Captain Youssouf Mulumbu and forward Yannick Bolasie.

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Meanwhile Uganda, runners-up in 1978 are competing for the second successive time and seventh overall in their history. Led by Frenchman Sebastian Desabre, the Cranes are depending on some experienced players led by goalkeeper and Captain Denis Onyango.

Previous AFCON encounters

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What they said

Florent Ibenge, coach DR Congo

We qualified from a very difficult group but we will do our best to get the needed results. It’s a tough group and we have tough opponents. Uganda is almost the same level as us, and it’s going to be a very tough match. There’s no difference between our local and foreign-based players. The Congolese players are the same whether they play for TP Mazembe or AS Vita or West Brom. It has always been the same.

Youssof Mulumbu, (Captain, DR Congo)

We are a strong team with a mix of experienced and young talented players. We are ready to do more than what we achieved before. Our history in the AFCON is very good and we are working right now to correct what we have been missing. We want to progress further and we have worked for long tactically and we need to get better results although it’s going to be a bit difficult.

Sebastien Desabre (Coach, Uganda)

It’s my first AFCON but I was Uganda coach before in CHAN 2018 in Morocco and we also played big matches like the World Cup qualifications. I will depend on the experienced players. We respect DR Congo, a team that has many good players. It’s a difficult group and we have our chances despite that. Our objective is to go pass the group stage.

Denis Onyango (Captain, Uganda)

In 2017, it was very difficult for us because it was our first time in 39 years. This time, we have gained more experience and we can push the small guys, and we as senior players will help others to get good results. It’s not an easy group but we will give our best and may the better teams qualify to the next stage. In every group stage, the first game is very important. We didn’t want to play against Egypt because of all their supporters at home. We know the quality of DR Congo but we also have the quality and we will fight to get the results.