DR Congo national football team
|Association||Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA)|
|Head coach||Florent Ibengé|
|Top scorer||Dieumerci Mbokani (15)|
|Home stadium||Stade des Martyrs|
|FIFA ranking||54 (7 May 2015)|
|Highest FIFA ranking||46 (February 2015)|
|Lowest FIFA ranking||133 (October 2011)|
|Elo ranking||85 (31 March 2015)|
|Highest Elo ranking||20 (March 1974)|
|Lowest Elo ranking||111 (September 2010)|
| Belgian Congo 3–2 Northern Rhodesia
(Belgian Congo; 1948)
| DR Congo 10–1 Zambia
(Kinshasa, Congo DR; 22 November 1969)
| Yugoslavia 9–0 Zaire
(Gelsenkirchen, Germany; 18 June 1974)
|Appearances||1 (First in 1974)|
|Best result||First round, 1974|
|Africa Cup of Nations|
|Appearances||15 (First in 1965)|
|Best result||Winners: 1968 & 1974|
The Democratic Republic of the Congo national football team (formerly the Zaire national football team) is the national team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is controlled by the Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA). They are nicknamed the Leopards.
The Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA) 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 the 11 April 1963, against Mauritania in the L'Amitié Tournament played in Dakar, Senegal. DR Congo won the match 6–0.
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. From 1971 to 1997 the country, and therefore the team, was known as Zaire. Their first game as Zaire was played in Cameroon against Sudan. Sudan won this game 3–0. Six years later Zaire won the 1974 African Cup of Nations in Egypt. The team 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 Mulamba Ndaye was top scorer with nine goals, wehich 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 FIFA World Cup. At the 1974 FIFA World Cup Zaire did not manage to score any goals and lost all of its games. Their 9–0 defeat against Yugoslavia still remains a World Cup record. Facing a free-kick 25 yards out during the 1974 World Cup finals match against Brazil, 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, though many commentators held it to be an example of African football's "naïvety and indiscipline". However, Ilunga has claimed 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.
After winning the 1974 African Cup of Nations and participating in the 1974 FIFA World Cup, the team did not get past the first round of the 1976 African Cup of Nations not recording a win in the group stages. Morocco went on to win the tournament. From 1978 to 1986, the country did not qualify for any other African Cup of Nations, while withdrawing from qualification for the 1978 FIFA World Cup. In the 1988 African Cup of Nations Zaire finished last in their group despite having 2 draws.
Return to success
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, their name changed to DR Congo. DR Congo played their first game on the 8 June 1997 in Brazzaville which ended in a 1–0 victory for them. At the 1998 African Cup of Nations, DR Congo, led by Louis Watunda Iyolo took third place, beating hosts Burkina Faso 4–1 on penalties.
At the 2000 African Cup of Nations the team finished 3rd in their group, and in 2002 were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Senegal. Then in 2004 they were eliminated by 3 straight defeats in the group stages. And then in 2006, led by Claude Le Roy, having finished second in the group behind Cameroon, were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Egypt 4–1.
DR Congo were drawn in group 10 for qualifications for the 2008 African Cup of Nations, along with Libya, Namibia and Ethiopia. On the penultimate day DR Congo led the group, but drew 1–1 with Libya and Namibia beat Ethiopia 3–2. This sent Namibia through to the Finals, and DR Congo finished in 2nd place. DR Congo also failed to qualify for the 2010 FIFA World Cup. In 2009, DR Congo won the 2009 African Championship of Nations, a competition reserved to players in domestic leagues, beating Ghana in the final. 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. In the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, DR Congo qualified from their group with 3 points and finished 2nd place in the group behind Tunisia, therefore they advanced to the quarter finals to play against their rivals Republic of Congo and they came from two goals down to win 4-2. However, they were knocked out by Ivory Coast who won 3-1 in the semi finals. They ended up finishing third, beating Equatorial Guineau in penalties, after the third place match went 0-0 in regulation time.
Caps and goals as of 28 March 2015, after the game against Iraq.
The following players have been called up to the DR Congo squad within the last 12 months.
INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
RET Retired from international football
FIFA World Cup
|FIFA World Cup record|
| 1930 to
|Did not enter|
|1970||Entry not accepted|
|1982||Did not qualify|
| 1990 to
|Did not qualify|
|2018||To Be Determined|
African Nations Cup
|African Cup of Nations|
|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||To be determined|
|1965||Round 1||1984||Withdrew||2002||Quarter Finals||2019||To be determined|
|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|
|1974||Champions||1992||Quarter Finals||2010||Did not qualify|
List of coaches
- "BBC SPORT | WORLD CUP | History | 1974: Zaire's show of shame". BBC News. 2002-05-22. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- Courtney, Barrie (14 June 2007). "DR Congo (Zaire, Congo-Kinshasa) – List of International Matches". FRSSF. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
- Merrill, Austin. "Zaire, the Leopards, and the 1974 World Cup". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2013-12-02.
- "Explore". Channel 4. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "The Joy of Six: Symbolic reducers, including Roy Keane, Norman Whiteside and Benjamin Massing | Football". London: theguardian.com. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "BBC Sport - Football - Zaire free-kick farce explained". BBC News. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2013-11-15.
- "Amical RDC vs Irak : Ibenge a publié ses 26 Léopards" (in French). fecofa.cd. Retrieved 17 March 2015.
- "History of the FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition (by year)" (PDF). FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to DR Congo national football team.|
- RSSSF archive of results
- Congolese football picture blog
- News.Bbc.co.uk article
- YouTube clip of Brazil free-kick incident.