DR Congo national football team
|Association||Fédération Congolaise de Football-Association (FECOFA)|
|Head coach||Florent Ibengé|
|Top scorer||Dieumerci Mbokani (16)|
|Home stadium||Stade des Martyrs|
|Current||51 5 (15 September 2016)|
|Highest||46 (February 2015)|
|Lowest||133 (October 2011)|
|Current||72 (29 June 2016)|
|Highest||20 (March 1974)|
|Lowest||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, West Germany; 18 June 1974)
|Appearances||1 (First in 1974)|
|Best result||Round 1, 1974|
|Africa Cup of Nations|
|Appearances||15 (First in 1965)|
|Best result||Champions, 1968 and 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. 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 FIFA World Cup, qualifying for the 1974 tournament in place of 1970 participants Morocco, whom they defeated in the decisive qualifier 3-0 in Kinshasa. 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’. 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, 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 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 FIFA World Cup and 1986 FIFA World Cup. In the 1988 African Cup of Nations, Zaire finished last in their group despite having two 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, 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. 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 3rd in their group, and in 2002 were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Senegal. Then in 2004, DR Congo were eliminated after 3 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.
Struggles and the Ibenge Era
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 FIFA 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. In the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, DR Congo again drew all three group matches but this time finished 2nd 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 in penalties, after the third place match finished 0–0 in regulation time.
The following players were called up to the squad for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations qualification Group B match against Central African Republic on September 2, 2016. Caps and goals as of September 6, 2016.
The following players have been called up to the DR Congo squad within the last 12 months.
|Pos.||Player||Date of birth (age)||Caps||Goals||Club||Latest call-up|
|GK||Mulopo Kudimbana||21 January 1987||6||0||Royal Antwerp||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|GK||Joseph Bulayima||0||0||Lupopo||v. Angola, March 26, 2016|
|GK||Riffi Mandanda||11 October 1992||0||0||Ajaccio||v. Angola, March 26, 2016WTD|
|GK||Parfait Mandanda||10 October 1989||16||0||Charleroi||v. Burundi, November 15, 2015|
|GK||Franck Nkela||25 September 1984||6||0||FCO Beerschot Wilrijk||v. Gabon, October 12, 2015|
|DF||Litombo Bangala||12 April 1994||14||0||DCMP||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|DF||Junior Baometu||9 May 1994||7||0||Lupopo||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|DF||Fabrice N'Sakala||21 July 1990||7||0||Alanyaspor||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|DF||Joël Kimwaki||14 October 1986||52||3||TP Mazembe||v. Angola, March 29, 2016|
|DF||Chris Mavinga||26 May 1991||4||0||Troyes||v. Angola, March 29, 2016|
|DF||Cédric Mongongu||22 June 1989||39||2||Eskisehirspor||v. Burundi, November 15, 2015|
|DF||Abel Tamata||5 December 1990||1||0||Groningen||v. Gabon, October 12, 2015|
|MF||Nelson Munganga||27 March 1993||14||1||V Club||v. Angola, March 29, 2016|
|MF||Michaël Nkololo||9 November 1992||4||2||Clermont||v. Angola, March 29, 2016|
|MF||Wilson Kamavuaka||29 March 1990||9||0||Panetolikos||v. Burundi, November 15, 2015|
|FW||Cédric Bakambu||11 April 1991||8||3||Villarreal||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|FW||Cedrick Mabwati||8 March 1992||18||0||Columbus Crew||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|FW||Jeremy Bokila||14 November 1988||16||6||Al Kharaitiyat||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|FW||Arnold Issoko||6 April 1992||1||0||Vitória||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|FW||André Bukia||3 March 1995||0||0||Boavista||v. Madagascar, June 2, 2016|
|FW||Dieumerci Mbokani||22 November 1985||35||16||Hull City||v. Angola, March 26, 2016WTD|
|FW||Benik Afobe||12 February 1993||0||0||Bournemouth||v. Angola, March 29, 2016|
|FW||Elia Meschak||6 August 1996||0||0||TP Mazembe||v. Angola, March 29, 2016|
INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
WTD Withdrew from squad
FIFA World Cup
|FIFA World Cup record|
|Played as Zaire|
| 1930 to
|Did not enter|
|1970||Entry not accepted|
|1982||Did not qualify|
|1990||Did not qualify|
|Played as DR Congo|
| 1998 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.
- "Leopards roar to Germany 1974". FIFA.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
- "More than a game? Mobutu, Sport and Zairian Identity, 1965-1974" (PDF). Retrieved 21 September 2016.
- "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.
- "Football Team Nicknames". topendsports.com. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
- "History of the FIFA World Cup Preliminary Competition (by year)" (PDF). FIFA.com. Fédération Internationale de Football Association. Retrieved 2011-11-16.
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