Ibenge blames ‘individual mistakes’ for CHAN exit, hails fighting spirit

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DR Congo coach says ‘two individual mistakes’ cost them their place in the semi-finals of the African Nations Championship after they were eliminated by hosts Cameroon.

Florent Ibenge also hailed the fighting spirit of his players despite losing 2-1 to the Indomitable Lions in Saturday’s quarter-final clash at the Japoma Stadium in Douala.

The Leopards let an early lead slip allowing Cameroon to hit back and win the match and secure a place in the last four of the tournament exclusively for home-based players.

The two-time champions demonstrated their early desire to win the match and they took the lead in 22nd minute through Makabi Lilepo’s header silenced the home crowd.

Cameroon’s experienced striker Yannick Ndjeng took advantage of a clanger by goalkeeper Ley Matampi to equalise seven minutes later.

Matampi attempted to fist away a long ball in his area but it fell gracefully to Ndjeng who had an easy work of tapping it in.

The home side sealed their win in the 42nd minute when Felix Oukine Tcheoude’s strike took a wicked deflection to beat Matampi to send them into the semis.

Ibenge had no qualms praising the efforts of Cameroon for taking advantage of the Leopards mistakes insisting they dominated the exchanges.

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“Congratulations to Cameroon. Two individual mistakes penalized us. Cameroon didn’t have more opportunities than that, but they were very realistic on those occasions and that's what made the difference,” Ibenge told the post-match press conference on Saturday.

“If you take a good look at the second half, I think we rather dominated the game. We didn't give up, we didn't look down, we played to the end. 

“From my point of view, we were pretty much tied. Rather, there were these two twists of fate that weighed heavily in the balance.”

Cameroon will face either Morocco or Zambia in Wednesday's semi-final at the Limbe Stadium.