DR Congo national football team

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DR Congo
Shirt badge/Association crest
Nickname(s) The Leopards
Association Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA)
Sub-confederation UNIFFAC
(Central Africa)
Confederation CAF (Africa)
Head coach Florent Ibengé
Captain Youssuf Mulumbu
Home stadium Stade des Martyrs
FIFA ranking 56 Decrease 1 (18 December 2014)
Highest FIFA ranking 51 (September 2003)
Lowest FIFA ranking 133 (October 2011)
Elo ranking 96
Highest Elo ranking 20 (March 1974)
Lowest Elo ranking 111 (September 2010)
First colours
Second colours
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, Germany; 18 June 1974)
World Cup
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.[1]

DR Congo have been ranked as high as 51 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.


Early history[edit]

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.[2]

Glory period[edit]

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.[3] 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,[4] though many commentators held it to be an example of African football's "naïvety and indiscipline".[5] 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.[6]

Crisis period[edit]

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[edit]

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.

Recent history[edit]

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.

Current squad[edit]

The following 23-man squad for 2014 World Cup Qualification match against Togo on September 8, 2013[7] Caps and goals updated as 8 September 2013, following the match against Togo.

0#0 Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1 1GK Robert Kidiaba (1976-02-01) 1 February 1976 (age 38) 41 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
16 1GK Parfait Mandanda (1989-10-10) 10 October 1989 (age 25) 7 0 Belgium Charleroi
23 1GK Hervé Lomboto (1989-10-27) 27 October 1989 (age 25) 2 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club
5 2DF Miala Nkulukutu (1982-09-06) 6 September 1982 (age 32) 26 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
3 2DF Kilitcho Kasusula (1986-08-05) 5 August 1986 (age 28) 25 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
21 2DF Cédric Mongongu (1989-06-22) 22 June 1989 (age 25) 22 0 France Évian
18 2DF Patou Ebunga-Simbi (1983-08-06) 6 August 1983 (age 31) 13 2 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club
22 2DF Chancel Mbemba Mangulu (1994-08-08) 8 August 1994 (age 20) 4 0 Belgium Anderlecht
2 2DF Bobo Ungenda (1989-11-19) 19 November 1989 (age 25) 4 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Motema Pembe
12 2DF Manitu Matondo (1992-09-03) 3 September 1992 (age 22) 0 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Motema Pembe
19 2DF Gabby Zakuani (1986-03-31) 31 March 1986 (age 28) 5 0 England Peterborough
10 3MF Zola Matumona (1981-11-26) 26 November 1981 (age 33) 45 8 Belgium Mons
14 3MF Youssouf Mulumbu (1987-01-25) 25 January 1987 (age 27) 21 1 England West Bromwich Albion
6 3MF Cédric Makiadi (1984-02-23) 23 February 1984 (age 30) 19 2 Germany Werder Bremen
13 3MF Distel Zola (1989-02-05) 5 February 1989 (age 25) 7 0 France Le Havre
20 3MF Hervé Ndonga (1992-05-02) 2 May 1992 (age 22) 2 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
15 3MF Mukoko Mayayi (1988-03-18) 18 March 1988 (age 26) 1 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Motema Pembe
4 3MF Tychique Ntela (1987-12-12) 12 December 1987 (age 27) 1 0 Republic of the Congo AC Léopards
8 4FW Trésor Mputu (1985-12-10) 10 December 1985 (age 29) 43 14 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
17 4FW Lelo Mbele (1987-08-10) 10 August 1987 (age 27) 13 1 Angola Petro Atlético
7 4FW Eric Bokanga (1989-10-09) 9 October 1989 (age 25) 8 1 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
11 4FW Mbidi Mavuanga (1994-06-01) 1 June 1994 (age 20) 1 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Motema Pembe
9 4FW Jacob Little (1995-05-06) 6 May 1995 (age 19) 0 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo SPCCFC

Competition records[edit]

FIFA World Cup[edit]

FIFA World Cup record
Year Round Position Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 to
England 1966
Did not enter
Mexico 1970 Entry not accepted[8]
West Germany 1974 Group Stage 16th 3 0 0 3 0 14
Argentina 1978 Withdrew
Spain 1982 Did not qualify
Mexico 1986 Banned
Italy 1990 to
Brazil 2014
Did not qualify
Russia 2018 To Be Determined
Qatar 2022
Total Group Stage 1/20 3 0 0 3 0 14

African Nations Cup[edit]

African Cup of Nations
Titles: 2
Appearances: 15
Year Position Year Position Year Position Year Position
Sudan 1957 Did not enter Ethiopia 1976 Round 1 Tunisia 1994 Quarter Finals Equatorial GuineaGabon 2012 Did not qualify
Egypt 1959 Did not enter Ghana 1978 Did not enter South Africa 1996 Quarter Finals South Africa 2013 Round 1
Ethiopia 1962 Did not enter Nigeria 1980 Did not qualify Burkina Faso 1998 Third place Morocco 2015 To be determined
Ghana 1963 Did not enter Libya 1982 Did not qualify GhanaNigeria 2000 Round 1 2017 To be determined
Tunisia 1965 Round 1 Ivory Coast 1984 Withdrew Mali 2002 Quarter Finals Cameroon 2019 To be determined
Ethiopia 1968 Champions Egypt 1986 Did not qualify Tunisia 2004 Round 1 Ivory Coast 2021 To be determined
Sudan 1970 Round 1 Morocco 1988 Round 1 Egypt 2006 Quarter Finals Guinea 2023 To be determined
Cameroon 1972 Fourth Place Algeria 1990 Did not qualify Ghana 2008 Did not qualify
Egypt 1974 Champions Senegal 1992 Quarter Finals Angola 2010 Did not qualify

List of coaches[edit]


  1. ^ "BBC SPORT | WORLD CUP | History | 1974: Zaire's show of shame". BBC News. 2002-05-22. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  2. ^ Courtney, Barrie (14 June 2007). "DR Congo (Zaire, Congo-Kinshasa) – List of International Matches". FRSSF. Retrieved 10 November 2010. 
  3. ^ Merrill, Austin. "Zaire, the Leopards, and the 1974 World Cup". Vanity Fair. Retrieved 2013-12-02. 
  4. ^ "Explore". Channel 4. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  5. ^ "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. 
  6. ^ "BBC Sport - Football - Zaire free-kick farce explained". BBC News. 2010-05-28. Retrieved 2013-11-15. 
  7. ^ "DR Congo: 6 Mazembe men in the group to play Togo". Starafrica.com. 5 September 2013. 
  8. ^ "History of the FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition (by year)". FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved 2011-11-16. 

External links[edit]