DRC confident of winning start against Libya
Youssouf Mulumbu of the Democratic Republic of Congo
Wednesday Oct 05, 2016. 12:30
DR Congo will fancy their chances of getting their Group A 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign off to a winning start when they host Libya in Kinshasa on Saturday night, kick-off at 19h30.
The Leopards beat Burundi 6-2 on aggregate in the previous round (with the return game awarded 3-0 in favour of DRC after Burundi fielded an ineligible player), while the Mediterranean Knights surged to a 4-1 aggregate win over Rwanda.
The match will be the penultimate fixture in charge of Libya for coach Javier Clemente, with Anwar Al-Toshani (the Libyan Football Federation boss) declaring that they are in the process of hiring a new mentor. Clemente will leave his post after the home match against Tunisia next month.
The North Africans have never qualified for the World Cup and they also recently failed to secure a return to the Africa Cup of Nations in 2017, finishing third in their qualifying group behind Morocco and Cape Verde.
As for DRC, they enjoyed an excellent campaign in booking a spot in Gabon 2017 and will be looking to qualify for the World Cup for the first time in their current guise (as part of the now defunct Zaire they appeared in the 1974 finals in Germany).
Under coach Florent Ibenge the Leopards have been on a gradual rise and they will be confident of a strong showing in the Russian 2018 qualifiers.
For this match Ibenge has named a strong squad, which includes the likes of English-based players Dieumerci Mbokani, Youssuf Mulumba and star man Yannick Bolasie, as well as many others based in top European leagues.
The other Group A match this weekend sees Tunisia host Guinea in Monastir on Sunday, October 9.