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AFCON 2023: Leopards A Foot Away From Knockout Stage Qualification But Can Tanzania Spoil The Party?

DR Congo national team will this evening take on Tanzania at the Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium in Korhogo in their final Group F fixture with a draw sufficient for their Round of 16 passage at the ongoing 2023 TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast.

The Leopards shift base go into this Wednesday night’s encounter still searching for their first victory at the AFCON after playing to two 1-all stalemates last against tournament favourites Morocco as well as Zambia.

Sebastien Desabre’s men find themselves in second position in Group F with 2 points ahead of Zambia who have the same number of points as the Leopards with the two sides only separated by the fair play rule.

A draw will be enough to see the two-time African champions against Tanzania tonight but the bottom-placed Taifa Stars also retain a chance to progress with a victory over the Leopards.

Speaking on Tuesday at the pre-match press conference, Desabre revealed that his side’s objective in Wednesday night’s clash was to get their first win at the tournament and secure their place in the knockout phase regardless of the other permutations.

“It’s a match that is decisive for us for the rest of the competition. We are very focused, calm and we can’t wait to play this match.

We want to win and have a good match, that’s our goal and that’s all we think about. We want, firstly to qualify and then to once again show a good image of our team,” Desabre said.

The Frenchman hailed his side’s character having come from behind both against Morocco and Zambia to avoid defeat at the tournament and revealed he was wary of the potential threat the Taifa Stars were posing to be ahead of the clash.

“I think with the things we showed in the game, we would like the players to be rewarded. But we must not forget that opposite we have a good team from Tanzania. She is fast and has qualities. Reasons why we have to have a good match and the players know them” he said.

The Leopards and the Taifa Stars have cancelled out each other in terms of wins in this fixture with either side having three wins in the eight fixtures that have been played while two have ended in stalemates.

In their last meeting, a 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifier held in November 2021, the Leopards rallied to a resounding 3-0 victory over the Taifa Stars in Kinshasa.

Desabre’s mission to secure a precious victory tonight means he will have to whet his attacking frontline having managed to score just twice at tournament so far.

Cedric Bakambu blew away his chance to get his first goal at the tournament against Morocco as he saw his penalty spot effort come off the bar.

Regardless, the Galatasaray star looks to have done enough to earn a starting spot tonight flanked by the likes of Yoane Wissa, Gaël Kakuta, Theo Bongonda and the mesmerizing Elia Meshack.

Captain of the side Chancel Mbemba has been solid at the back and will be relied upon once again alongside his defence partners Arthur Masuaku, Gédéon Kalulu and Henock Inonga Baka.

Meanwhile, the Leopards will also have to be wary of the attacking threat that the Taifa Stars possess in the form of skipper and former TP Mazembe star Mbwana Ally Samatta supported by Saimon Msuva.

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