DR Congo Leopards are facing a premature exit when they face Zimbabwe Warriors on Sunday (30 June 2019) on the venue that holds the date’s very same name (30 June) in Cairo, as the curtain falls on Total Africa Cup of Nations 2019 Group A. Hosts Egypt and Uganda lock horns in a simultaneous kickoff (21:00 local time, 19:00 GMT) at Cairo International Stadium.
Egypt, already qualified to next round, top the group with 6 points, followed by their rivals on the day Uganda (4 points). Zimbabwe (one point) and DR Congo (pointless) follow in that order.
Only victory could help either side to reach the next round, as the extended format of this Total AFCON edition gives top two teams from each group plus the best four ranked third placed teams places in the eighth finals.
Two time champions DR Congo were shocked by back to back defeats to Uganda and Egypt, which had put lots of pressure on Coach Florent Ibenge, who led The Leopards to a third place finish four years ago.
“"It's true that we lost both games, and we made mistakes in them. But now we have to regain confidence and get a much needed victory against Zimbabwe”, Ibenge said before the game.
Being the gaffer for both DR Congo and local side AS Vita for more than five years, Ibenge is facing the worst of his spells with The Leopards if they were eliminated from the first round.
His opposite number Sunday Chimbadzwa admitted his side’s mission is very tough, but vowed to give everything to have a chance of Zimbabwe first ever knockout stage appearance.
“We are going to play against a very difficult team, especially since both teams have chances of qualifying for the knockout stages. But on our side, we will do everything to make a good match and win”, he said.
It’s the first time in AFCON history both sides lock horns together.
What they said
Florent Ibenge (Head Coach, DR Congo):
It's true that we lost both games, but we are strong enough and we have to do better in this game against Zimbabwe. We made mistakes in the first two games. Now we have to regain confidence. We will try to take full points against Zimbabwe. Zimbabwe is a team we know very well and have played twice in the last eight months. I think there are no more small teams in the continent and all teams deserve to be here.
Youssuf Mulumbu (Captain, DR Congo)
We have to win this game against Zimbabwe and wait for the other results to know if we will qualify for the eighth finals. We are going to play on DR Congo Independence Day, a historic day for a whole country, and that is why we will try to do our utmost to get the three points.
Sunday Chidzambwa (Head Coach, Zimbabwe)
We are going to play against a very difficult team, especially since both teams have chances of qualifying for the knockout stages, but on our side, we will do everything to make a good match and win all three points.
Knowledge Musona (Captain, Zimbabwe):
We focus on our work. Morale is very important for us to achieve a good result. Playing in AFCON is a great thing and it's a big difference from qualifying, which allows us to develop good football. The DR Congo team is very good but we have to win to go further in this competition. For this last group game, we must win without pressure and give ourselves pleasure while correcting our mistakes.