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The Democratic Republic of the Congo national football team (formerly known as Zaire, alternatively known as Congo-Kinshasa) is the national team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is controlled by the Congolese Association Football Federation. They are nicknamed the Leopards.[3]

DR Congo
Nickname(s)The Leopards
AssociationCongolese Association Football Federation
ConfederationCAF (Africa)
Sub-confederationUNIFFAC (Central Africa)
Head coachFlorent Ibengé
CaptainYoussouf Mulumbu
Most capsIssama Mpeko (65)
Top scorerDieumerci Mbokani (18)
Home stadiumStade des Martyrs
FIFA codeCOD
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 46 Increase 5 (4 April 2019)[1]
Highest28 (July–August 2017)
Lowest133 (October 2011)
Elo ranking
Current 69 Decrease 4 (27 March 2019)[2]
Highest20 (March 1974)
Lowest111 (September 2010)
First international
Belgian Congo 3–2 Northern Rhodesia 
(Belgian Congo; 1948)
Biggest win
 DR Congo 10–1 Zambia 
(Kinshasa, Congo DR; 22 November 1969)
Biggest defeat
 Yugoslavia 9–0 Zaire 
(Gelsenkirchen, West Germany; 18 June 1974)
World Cup
Appearances1 (first in 1974)
Best resultGroup stage, 1974
Africa Cup of Nations
Appearances18 (first in 1965)
Best resultChampions, 1968 and 1974
African Nations Championship
Appearances4 (first in 2009)
Best resultChampions, 2009 and 2016

DR Congo have been ranked as high as 28 in the FIFA Rankings. As Zaire they were the first Sub-Saharan African team to qualify for the FIFA World Cup and twice won the Africa Cup of Nations.

Contents

HistoryEdit

Early historyEdit

The Congolese Association Football Federation was founded in 1919 when the country was not independent. The team played their first game in 1948 as Belgian Congo against Northern Rhodesia, now Zambia. The team recorded a 3–2 victory at home. DR Congo has been FIFA affiliated since 1962 and has been a member of CAF since 1963. The team's first official match was on 11 April 1963, against Mauritania in the L'Amitié Tournament played in Dakar, Senegal. DR Congo won the match 6–0.[4] The national team appeared in the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 1965.

Glory periodEdit

The Democratic Republic of the Congo had its first international success at the 1968 African Cup of Nations held in Ethiopia, beating Ghana 1–0 in the final. The team's biggest ever win came on 22 November 1969 when they recorded a 10–1 home victory against Zambia. Although a handful of Congolese players were playing in Europe (particularly Belgium) during these years, foreign-based players were seldom recalled for international duty; a rare exception was Julien Kialunda who represented Zaire (as the country was by then known) at the 1972 African Cup of Nations while playing for Anderlecht.

The second continental title came at the 1974 African Cup of Nations in Egypt. The Leopards recorded a 2–1 victory against Guinea, another 2–1 victory against rivals Congo and a 4–1 victory against Mauritius. These results carried Zaire through to the semi-finals where they beat hosts Egypt 3–2. In the final, Zaire drew with Zambia 2–2. Therefore, the match was replayed two days later, where Zaire won the game 2–0. Zaire player Ndaye Mulamba was top scorer with nine goals, which remains a record for the tournament. After this, the team returned to Zaire on the Presidential plane, lent to them by Mobutu Sese Seko.

Zaire were the first Sub-Saharan African team to participate in a World Cup, qualifying for the 1974 tournament in place of the 1970 participant Morocco, whom they defeated in the decisive qualifier 3–0 in Kinshasa.[5] Such was the desire to foster an identity of Zaire as a global player that Mobutu paid for advertising hoardings at the World Cup to display messages such as ‘Zaire-Peace’ and ‘Go to Zaire’.[6] At the tournament itself, Zaire did not manage to score any goals and lost all of its games, but gave credible performances against Scotland and Brazil. However, their 9–0 loss against Yugoslavia remains one of the worst World Cup defeats. A bizarre moment came in the match versus Brazil; facing a free-kick 25 yards out, defender Mwepu Ilunga, upon hearing the referee blow his whistle, ran out of the Zaire wall and kicked the ball upfield, for which he received a yellow card. This was voted the 17th greatest World Cup moment in a Channel 4 poll.[7] Ilunga has stated that he was quite aware of the rules and was hoping to convince the referee to send him off. The intended red card would have been a protest against his country's authorities, who were alleged to be depriving the players of their earnings.[8] Many contemporary commentators instead held it to be an example of African football's "naïvety and indiscipline".[9]

Crisis periodEdit

After winning the 1974 African Cup of Nations and participating in the 1974 World Cup, the team was eliminated in the first round of the 1976 African Cup of Nations after recording a draw and two losses in the group stage. Morocco went on to win the tournament. From 1978 to 1986, the country did not qualify for the African Cup of Nations, while not participating in qualification for the 1978 World Cup and 1986 World Cup. In the 1988 African Cup of Nations, Zaire finished last in their group despite having two draws.

Return to successEdit

From 1992 to 1996, Zaire, reached three consecutive African Cup of Nations quarter-finals. In 1992 and 1994, they were beaten by Nigeria, and in 1996 they were beaten by Ghana. In 1997, the country's name changed to DR Congo and the national team was re-branded as the Simbas, a nickname that stuck for the next nine years.[10] DR Congo played their first game on 8 June 1997 in Pointe-Noire which ended in a 1–0 loss to the Republic of the Congo. At the 1998 African Cup of Nations, DR Congo, led by Louis Watunda, surprisingly took third place, beating Cameroon in the quarter-finals and hosts Burkina Faso 4–1 on penalties in their last match after scoring three late goals to tie the encounter 4–4.

At the 2000 African Cup of Nations, the team finished third in their group, and in 2002 were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Senegal. Then, in 2004, DR Congo were eliminated after three straight defeats in the group stages. In 2006, led by Claude Le Roy, having finished second in the group behind Cameroon, the Congolese were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Egypt 4–1.

StrugglesEdit

DR Congo were drawn in group 10 for qualifications for the 2008 African Cup of Nations, along with Libya, Namibia and Ethiopia. Before the last match day, the Congolese led the group, but they drew 1–1 with Libya in their final match while Namibia beat Ethiopia 3–2. This sent Namibia through to the Finals, while the Leopards were eliminated. DR Congo also failed to qualify for the 2010 World Cup. In 2009, DR Congo won the 2009 African Championship of Nations, a competition reserved to players in domestic leagues, a tournament they would again win in 2016. DR Congo reached the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations finals in South Africa but were knocked out in the group stages after drawing all three matches.

The Ibengé era: rise and near World Cup missEdit

In the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, DR Congo again drew all three group matches but this time finished second in the group behind Tunisia, and therefore advanced to the quarter-finals to play their rivals Republic of Congo, a match in which the Leopards came from two goals down to win 4–2. However, they were knocked out by the Ivory Coast 3–1 in the semi-finals. They ended up finishing third, beating Equatorial Guinea on penalties, after the third place match finished 0–0 in regulation time.

DR Congo under Ibengé improved radically and had an outstanding performance for many decades in a World Cup qualification. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, DR Congo was grouped with Libya, Tunisia and Guinea. DR Congo managed an outstanding performance, beating Libya and Guinea home and away, but missed the chance after losing 1–2 to eventual World Cup qualifier Tunisia in Tunis and drew 2–2 at home to the same opponent.

PlayersEdit

Current squadEdit

The following players have been pre-selected for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.[11]

Caps and goals as of 24 March 2019, after the match against Liberia.[12]

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Ley Matampi (1989-04-18) 18 April 1989 (age 30) 35 0   Al-Ansar
1GK Parfait Mandanda (1989-10-10) 10 October 1989 (age 29) 17 0   Dinamo Bucarest
1GK Anthony Mossi (1994-05-15) 15 May 1994 (age 25) 4 0   Chiasso
1GK Katembwe Auguy Kalambayi (1987-12-06) 6 December 1987 (age 31) 0 0   Sanga Balende

2DF Issama Mpeko (1986-03-03) 3 March 1986 (age 33) 65 1   Mazembe
2DF Botuli Bompunga (1992-01-30) 30 January 1992 (age 27) 20 2   Vita Club
2DF Merveille Bokadi (1996-05-21) 21 May 1996 (age 23) 19 1   Standard Liège
2DF Marcel Tisserand (1993-01-10) 10 January 1993 (age 26) 16 0   VfL Wolfsburg
2DF Beaudrick Muselenge Ungenda (1989-11-19) 19 November 1989 (age 29) 12 0   1º de Agosto
2DF Ngonda Muzinga (1994-12-31) 31 December 1994 (age 24) 11 0   Vita Club
2DF Fabrice N'Sakala (1990-07-21) 21 July 1990 (age 28) 11 0   Alanyaspor
2DF Christian Luyindama (1994-01-08) 8 January 1994 (age 25) 8 0   Galatasaray
2DF Wilfred Moke (1988-02-12) 12 February 1988 (age 31) 6 0   Ankaragucu
2DF Arthur Masuaku (1993-11-07) 7 November 1993 (age 25) 1 0   West Ham United
2DF Djuma Shabani (1993-03-16) 16 March 1993 (age 26) 1 0   Vita Club

3MF Trésor Mputu (1985-12-10) 10 December 1985 (age 33) 49 14   Mazembe
3MF Chancel Mbemba (1994-08-08) 8 August 1994 (age 24) 46 3   Porto
3MF Youssouf Mulumbu (1987-01-25) 25 January 1987 (age 32) 41 1   Kilmarnock
3MF Jacques Maghoma (1987-10-23) 23 October 1987 (age 31) 21 1   Birmingham City
3MF Nelson Munganga (1993-07-27) 27 July 1993 (age 25) 19 2   Vita Club
3MF Paul-José M'Poku (1992-04-19) 19 April 1992 (age 27) 12 6   Standard Liège
3MF Luamba Ngoma (1994-01-22) 22 January 1994 (age 25) 5 0   Vita Club
3MF Chadrac Akolo (1995-04-01) 1 April 1995 (age 24) 4 0   VfB Stuttgart
3MF Aaron Tshibola (1995-01-02) 2 January 1995 (age 24) 1 0   Kilmarnock
3MF Giannelli Imbula (1992-09-12) 12 September 1992 (age 26) 0 0   Rayo Vallecano

4FW Yannick Bolasie (1989-05-24) 24 May 1989 (age 29) 36 9   Anderlecht
4FW Jonathan Bolingi (1994-06-30) 30 June 1994 (age 24) 22 7   Antwerp
4FW Cédric Bakambu (1991-04-11) 11 April 1991 (age 28) 19 8   Beijing Guoan
4FW Elia Meschak (1996-08-06) 6 August 1996 (age 22) 16 6   Mazembe
4FW Britt Assombalonga (1992-12-06) 6 December 1992 (age 26) 3 0   Middlesbrough
4FW Kabongo Kasongo (1994-07-18) 18 July 1994 (age 24) 2 1   Al-Wehda
4FW Jackson Muleka (1999-10-04) 4 October 1999 (age 19) 0 0   Mazembe

Recent call-upsEdit

The following players have been called up for DR Congo in the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Nathan Mabruki (1989-03-27) 27 March 1989 (age 30) 0 0   Motema Pembe v.   Zimbabwe, 16 October 2018
GK Joël Kiassumbua (1992-04-06) 6 April 1992 (age 27) 5 0   Servette v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE

DF Yannick Bangala Litombo (1994-04-12) 12 April 1994 (age 25) 20 0   Vita Club v.   Congo, 18 November 2018
DF Jordan Ikoko (1994-02-03) 3 February 1994 (age 25) 7 0   Guingamp v.   Zimbabwe, 16 October 2018
DF Kévin Mondeko (1995-09-10) 10 September 1995 (age 23) 0 0   Mazembe v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE
DF Arsène Zola (1997-02-03) 3 February 1997 (age 22) 0 0   Mazembe v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE

MF Lema Mabidi (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 (age 25) 23 0   Raja Casablanca v.   Congo, 18 November 2018
MF Ricky Tulengi (1993-02-02) 2 February 1993 (age 26) 9 0   Motema Pembe v.   Congo, 18 November 2018
MF Gaël Kakuta (1991-06-21) 21 June 1991 (age 27) 5 1   Rayo Vallecano v.   Congo, 14 November 2018 INJ
MF Neeskens Kebano (1992-03-10) 10 March 1992 (age 27) 21 5   Fulham v.   Zimbabwe, 16 October 2018
MF Glody Likonza (1998-10-05) 5 October 1998 (age 20) 0 0   Mazembe v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE
MF Miché Mika (1996-09-11) 11 September 1996 (age 22) 0 0   Mazembe v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE

FW Mundele Makusu (1992-03-27) 27 March 1992 (age 27) 10 5   Vita Club v.   Liberia, 24 March 2019
FW Dieumerci Ndongala (1991-06-14) 14 June 1991 (age 27) 1 0   Genk v.   Liberia, 24 March 2019
FW Dieumerci Mbokani (1985-11-22) 22 November 1985 (age 33) 41 18   Royal Antwerp v.   Liberia, 24 March 2019 INJ
FW Ndombe Mubele (1994-04-17) 17 April 1994 (age 25) 46 9   Toulouse v.   Congo, 18 November 2018
FW Jordan Botaka (1993-06-24) 24 June 1993 (age 25) 16 4   Sint-Truiden v.   Zimbabwe, 16 October 2018
FW Benik Afobe (1993-02-12) 12 February 1993 (age 26) 7 1   Stoke City v.   Zimbabwe, 16 October 2018
FW Junior Kabananga (1989-04-04) 4 April 1989 (age 30) 22 4   Astana v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE
FW Ben Malango (1993-11-10) 10 November 1993 (age 25) 1 1   Mazembe v.   Zimbabwe, 2 October 2018 PRE

INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
PRE Preliminary squad.
RET Player has retired from international football.
SUS Suspended from the national team.

RecordsEdit

Most capped playersEdit

As of 24 March 2019[13]
Players in bold are still active, at least at club level.
# Name International Career Caps Goals
1 Issama Mpeko 2011– 65 1
2 Muteba Kidiaba 2002–2015 64 0
3 Zola Matumona 2002–2014 53 9
4 Kimemba Mbayo 1996–2011 50 4
5 Trésor Mputu 2004– 49 14
6 Ndombe Mubele 2013– 46 9
Chancel Mbemba 2013– 46 3
7 Lakuya Mbuta 1996–2010 44 3
Tsholola Tshinyama 2001–2012 44 1
8 Dieumerci Mbokani 2005– 41 18
Jean Kasusula 2011–2015 41 0
10 Kazadi Mwamba 1968-1980 40 0

Top goalscorersEdit

As of 24 March 2019[14]
Players in bold are still active, at least at club level.
# Name International Career Goals Caps
1. Dieumerci Mbokani 2005– 18 41
2. Trésor Mputu 2004– 14 49
Shabani Nonda 2000–2008 14 22
3. Ruphin Mutombo Bayole 1990–1994 13 ?
4. Ngoy Kabongo 1981–1991 10 21
Ndaye Mulamba 1973–1976 10 20

Results and fixturesEdit

  Win   Draw   Loss


2018Edit

2019Edit

Competitive recordEdit

FIFA World CupEdit

FIFA World Cup record FIFA World Cup qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D* L GF GA Pld W D L GF GA
  1930 Did not enter Declined participation
  1934
  1938
  1950
  1954
  1958
  1962
  1966
  1970
  1974 Group stage 16th 3 0 0 3 0 14 11 8 1 2 20 4
  1978 Withdrew Withdrew
  1982 Did not qualify 4 2 1 1 6 9
  1986 Banned Banned
  1990 Did not qualify 6 2 2 2 7 7
  1994 3 0 1 2 1 3
  1998 8 2 2 4 11 10
    2002 10 4 2 4 17 18
  2006 10 4 4 2 14 10
  2010 6 3 0 3 14 6
  2014 8 3 3 2 11 5
  2018 8 6 1 1 20 10
  2022 To be determined To be determined
      2026
Total Group stage 1/21 3 0 0 3 0 14 74 34 17 23 121 82

African Nations CupEdit

African Cup of Nations
Titles: 2
Appearances: 18
Year Position Year Position Year Position Year Position
  1957 Did not enter   1976 Round 1   1994 Quarter-finals    2012 Did not qualify
  1959 Did not enter   1978 Did not enter   1996 Quarter-finals   2013 Round 1
  1962 Did not enter   1980 Did not qualify   1998 Third place   2015 Third place
  1963 Did not enter   1982 Did not qualify    2000 Round 1   2017 Quarter-finals
  1965 Round 1   1984 Withdrew   2002 Quarter-finals   2019 Qualified
  1968 Champions   1986 Did not qualify   2004 Round 1   2021 To be determined
  1970 Round 1   1988 Round 1   2006 Quarter-finals   2023 To be determined
  1972 Fourth place   1990 Did not qualify   2008 Did not qualify   2025 To be determined
  1974 Champions   1992 Quarter-finals   2010 Did not qualify

African GamesEdit

Football at the African Games has been an under-23 tournament since 1991.
African Games record
Year Result GP W D L GS GA
  1965 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
  1973 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
  1978 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
  1987 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
1991–present See DR Congo national under-23 football team
Total 4/4 0 0 0 0 0 0

List of coachesEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 4 April 2019. Retrieved 4 April 2019.
  2. ^ Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 27 March 2019. Retrieved 27 March 2019.
  3. ^ "BBC SPORT | WORLD CUP | History | 1974: Zaire's show of shame". BBC News. 22 May 2002. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  4. ^ Courtney, Barrie (14 June 2007). "DR Congo (Zaire, Congo-Kinshasa) – List of International matches". FRSSF. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Leopards roar to Germany 1974". FIFA.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  6. ^ "More than a game? Mobutu, Sport and Zairian Identity, 1965-1974" (PDF). Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Explore". Channel 4. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC Sport – Football – Zaire free-kick farce explained". BBC News. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  9. ^ "The Joy of Six: Symbolic reducers, including Roy Keane, Norman Whiteside and Benjamin Massing | Football". London: theguardian.com. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Football Team Nicknames". topendsports.com. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  11. ^ http://www.rdcongoleopardsfoot.com/can-total-egypte-2019-dabord-une-pre-liste-de-32-dibenge/
  12. ^ http://global.espn.com/football/lineups?gameId=501712
  13. ^ Roberto Mamrud. "Congo-Kinshasa – Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  14. ^ Roberto Mamrud. "Congo-Kinshasa – Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 May 2018.

External linksEdit