DR Congo and Zambia play out AFCON draw

AFP , Thursday 18 Jan 2024

Yoane Wissa scored the equaliser as the Democratic Republic of Congo came from behind to draw 1-1 with Zambia in their opening game at the Africa Cup of Nations on Wednesday.

DR Congo
DR Congo s defender #24 Gedeon Kalulu (L) fights for the ball with Zambia s defender #23 Rodrick Kabwe during the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 group F football match between DR Congo and Zambia at Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro on January 17, 2024. AFP

Kings Kangwa lobbed Zambia into an early lead in the Ivorian coastal city of San-Pedro after Congolese goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi came racing out of his area.

But Wissa, who has four goals in the English Premier League this season for Brentford, finished from close range to restore parity before the half-hour mark, and that was how it finished.

The draw between the two neighbours, both former African champions, came after heavily-fancied Group F rivals Morocco started their campaign with a 3-0 defeat of 10-man Tanzania earlier in the same stadium.

Zambia, coached by Avram Grant, were making their comeback after missing the last three editions of the AFCON and were looking for their first win at the tournament since they lifted the trophy against the odds in 2012.

With Herve Renard, the coach of that triumphant side, watching from the stands, the Chipolopolo went ahead midway through the first half.

Mpasi came racing out of his box to make a tackle, but Zambia took the resulting throw-in quickly, and Kangwa sent a lob sailing over the goalkeeper, desperately rushing back towards his goal, and into the net.

However, the Leopards were back level four minutes later as Cedric Bakambu squared for Wissa to apply an easy finish.

Congo thought they had won a penalty just after the hour mark when the Ethiopian referee ruled that Tandi Mwape had blocked Arthur Masuaku's cross with his arm.

However, the decision was correctly overturned following a review, with the official able to see that Mwape had in fact made the block with his chest.

Zambia then held on for a draw that sets them up to face another of their neighbours next in the shape of Tanzania on Sunday.

Sebastien Desabre's Congo will play Morocco earlier the same day.

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