After overturning a 2-0 lead against Ghana, to goals by Ghana’s Emmanuel Agyemang and the talented midfielder Kwadwo Asamoah, DR Congo never dropped their heads, but got a lifeline when troublesome TP Mazembe marksman Tresor Mputu scored, before Belgium-based striker Dieumerci Mbokani converted from a spot-kick.
It will be the same spirit needed Thursday evening when they take on group B minnows Niger
It is the fighting spirit which won the ‘Leopards’ many admirers back at home, especially coming against the backdrop of problems in their camp over bonuses and coach Le Roy threatening to resign.
Coming up against the ‘Mena’ of Niger, who have qualified for the African showpiece for a second successive time, and still nursing a 1-0 loss to Mali in the opening match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Sunday, Le Roy will command his charges not to under estimate the Mena who put u a fight against Keita inspired Mali.
Le Roy, one of the most respected African coaches, will be hoping his charges can take the game to the opposition from the onset, as the combination of Mputu and the free-scoring Anderlecht striker Mbokani gave the Ghanaian defence, led by John Pantsil, a torrid time.
The long-serving striker Lomana LuaLua might not have had the best of games, but his experience is rubbing off on the rest of the team. All eyes will be on the dreadlocked Mbokani, who has been prolific for his Belgian side, to find the goals for the ‘Leopards’.
With goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba having displayed a heart-warming performance against Ghana, denying Gyan Asamoah a late goal with an acrobatic save, the TP Mazembe star will surely have more of his ‘donkey riding’ celebrations if the likes of Mputu, Mbokani and Lua Lua get the goals on the other end.
Niger’s Coach Gernot Rohr, a former coach for Gabon, will hope his goalkeeper, South African-based Chippa United man Daouda Kassaly would have recovered from his goalkeeping howler on Sunday which gifted Mali’s Seydou Keita with probably the easiest goal of the tournament so far.
Rohr might have been pleased with his team’s resistance, but still the Malians created a plethora of chances, and against the fast attacking Congolese they might not be so lucky.
Niger will expect strikers Issoufou Alhassane and Moussa Maazou, who failed to impress in the opening match against Mali, to be at their best.
Another loss on Thursday and the ‘Mena’ of Niger will be on their way home, but the ‘Leopards’ will enter the game knowing a win by a huge margin will boost their chances, as nearest challengers Ghana will be taking on Group B log leaders Mali.