DR Congo national football team

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Congo DR
Nickname(s)The Leopards
AssociationCongolese Association Football Federation
ConfederationCAF (Africa)
Sub-confederationUNIFFAC (Central Africa)
Head coachChristian Nsengi-Biembe
CaptainYoussouf Mulumbu
Most capsIssama Mpeko (71)
Top scorerDieumerci Mbokani (18)
Home stadiumStade des Martyrs
FIFA codeCOD
First colours
Second colours
FIFA ranking
Current 54 Increase 1 (24 October 2019)[1]
Highest28 (July–August 2017)
Lowest133 (October 2011)
Elo ranking
Current 75 Decrease 6 (18 October 2019)[2]
Highest20 (March 1974)
Lowest111 (September 2010)
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, West Germany; 18 June 1974)
World Cup
Appearances1 (first in 1974)
Best resultGroup stage (16th overall), 1974
Africa Cup of Nations
Appearances19 (first in 1965)
Best resultChampions, 1968 and 1974
African Nations Championship
Appearances4 (first in 2009)
Best resultChampions, 2009 and 2016

The Democratic Republic of the Congo national football team, recognised by FIFA as Congo DR (formerly known as Zaire, alternatively known as Congo-Kinshasa), is the national team of the Democratic Republic of the Congo and is controlled by the Congolese Association Football Federation. They are nicknamed the Leopards.[3]

Congo DR have been ranked as high as 28 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.

History[edit]

Early history[edit]

The Congolese Association Football Federation 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 11 April 1963, against Mauritania in the L'Amitié Tournament played in Dakar, Senegal. DR Congo won the match 6–0.[4] The national team appeared in the Africa Cup of Nations for the first time in 1965.

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. 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 World Cup, qualifying for the 1974 tournament in place of the 1970 participant Morocco, whom they defeated in the decisive qualifier 3–0 in Kinshasa.[5] 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’.[6] 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.[7] Ilunga has stated 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.[8] Many contemporary commentators instead held it to be an example of African football's "naïvety and indiscipline".[9]

Crisis period[edit]

After winning the 1974 African Cup of Nations and participating in the 1974 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 World Cup and 1986 World Cup. In the 1988 African Cup of Nations, Zaire finished last in their group despite having two 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, 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.[10] 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 third in their group, and in 2002 were eliminated in the quarter-finals by Senegal. Then, in 2004, DR Congo were eliminated after three 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[edit]

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 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.

The Ibengé era: rise and near World Cup miss[edit]

In the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations, DR Congo again drew all three group matches but this time finished second 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 on penalties, after the third place match finished 0–0 in regulation time.

DR Congo under Ibengé improved radically and had an outstanding performance for many decades in a World Cup qualification. During the 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification, DR Congo was grouped with Libya, Tunisia and Guinea. DR Congo managed an outstanding performance, beating Libya and Guinea home and away, but missed the chance after losing 1–2 to eventual World Cup qualifier Tunisia in Tunis and drew 2–2 at home to the same opponent.

Players[edit]

Current squad[edit]

The following players have been selected for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations qualification against Gabon and Gambia on 14 and 18 November 2019 respectively .[11]

Caps and goals as of 13 October 2019, after the match against Ivory Coast.

No. Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club
1GK Joël Kiassumbua (1992-04-06) 6 April 1992 (age 27) 3 0 Switzerland Servette
1GK Timothy Fayulu (1999-07-24) 24 July 1999 (age 20) 0 0 Switzerland Sion
1GK Jackson Lunanga (1997-04-05) 5 April 1997 (age 22) 0 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club

2DF Marcel Tisserand (1993-01-10) 10 January 1993 (age 26) 21 0 Germany VfL Wolfsburg
2DF Ngonda Muzinga (1994-12-31) 31 December 1994 (age 24) 14 0 France Dijon
2DF Christian Luyindama (1994-01-08) 8 January 1994 (age 25) 12 0 Turkey Galatasaray
2DF Fabrice N'Sakala (1990-07-21) 21 July 1990 (age 29) 11 0 Turkey Alanyaspor
2DF Wilfred Moke (1988-02-12) 12 February 1988 (age 31) 10 0 Turkey Ankaragücü
2DF Jordan Ikoko (1994-02-03) 3 February 1994 (age 25) 7 0 Bulgaria Ludogorets
2DF Arthur Masuaku (1993-11-07) 7 November 1993 (age 26) 6 1 England West Ham United
2DF Amale Mukoko (1998-10-17) 17 October 1998 (age 21) 0 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo DCMP

3MF Chancel Mbemba (1994-08-08) 8 August 1994 (age 25) 53 4 Portugal Porto
3MF Neeskens Kebano (1992-03-10) 10 March 1992 (age 27) 23 5 England Fulham
3MF Paul-José M'Poku (1992-04-19) 19 April 1992 (age 27) 18 6 Belgium Standard Liège
3MF Chadrac Akolo (1995-04-01) 1 April 1995 (age 24) 9 1 France Amiens
3MF Jody Lukoki (1992-11-15) 15 November 1992 (age 26) 3 0 Bulgaria Ludogorets
3MF Samuel Moutoussamy (1996-08-12) 12 August 1996 (age 23) 2 0 France Nantes
3MF Giannelli Imbula (1992-09-12) 12 September 1992 (age 27) 0 0 Italy Lecce

4FW Yannick Bolasie (1989-05-24) 24 May 1989 (age 30) 42 9 Portugal Sporting CP
4FW Cédric Bakambu (1991-04-11) 11 April 1991 (age 28) 27 12 China Beijing Guoan
4FW Jonathan Bolingi (1994-06-30) 30 June 1994 (age 25) 27 8 Belgium Antwerp
4FW Jordan Botaka (1993-06-24) 24 June 1993 (age 26) 18 4 Belgium Sint-Truiden
4FW Jackson Muleka (1999-10-04) 4 October 1999 (age 20) 2 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe
4FW Dieumerci Ndongala (1991-06-14) 14 June 1991 (age 28) 1 0 Belgium Genk
4FW Nelson Balongo (1999-04-15) 15 April 1999 (age 20) 0 0 Belgium Sint-Truidense

Recent call-ups[edit]

The following players have been called up for DR Congo in the last 12 months.

Pos. Player Date of birth (age) Caps Goals Club Latest call-up
GK Parfait Mandanda (1989-10-10) 10 October 1989 (age 30) 20 0 Belgium Charleroi v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
GK Anthony Mossi (1994-05-15) 15 May 1994 (age 25) 6 0 Switzerland Chiasso v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
GK Ley Matampi (1989-04-18) 18 April 1989 (age 30) 40 0 Saudi Arabia Al-Ansar 2019 AFCON
GK Katembwe Auguy Kalambayi (1987-12-06) 6 December 1987 (age 31) 0 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Sanga Balende 2019 AFCON PRE

DF Ava Dongo (1996-01-23) 23 January 1996 (age 23) 2 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
DF Kévin Mondeko (1995-09-10) 10 September 1995 (age 24) 1 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
DF Issama Mpeko (1986-03-03) 3 March 1986 (age 33) 71 1 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe 2019 AFCON
DF Bobo Ungenda (1989-11-19) 19 November 1989 (age 29) 12 0 Angola 1º de Agosto 2019 AFCON
DF Djuma Shabani (1993-03-16) 16 March 1993 (age 26) 1 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club 2019 AFCON
DF Botuli Bompunga (1992-01-30) 30 January 1992 (age 27) 20 2 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club 2019 AFCON PRE
DF Yannick Bangala Litombo (1994-04-12) 12 April 1994 (age 25) 20 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club v.  Congo, 18 November 2018

MF Jacques Maghoma (1987-10-23) 23 October 1987 (age 32) 27 1 England Birmingham City v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
MF Bokadi Bopé (1996-05-21) 21 May 1996 (age 23) 24 1 Belgium Standard Liège v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
MF Gaël Kakuta (1991-06-21) 21 June 1991 (age 28) 7 1 France Amiens v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
MF Edo Kayembe (1998-08-03) 3 August 1998 (age 21) 1 0 Belgium Anderlecht v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
MF Trésor Mputu (1985-12-10) 10 December 1985 (age 33) 52 14 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe 2019 AFCON
MF Youssouf Mulumbu (1987-01-25) 25 January 1987 (age 32) 45 1 Scotland Kilmarnock 2019 AFCON
MF Nelson Munganga (1993-07-27) 27 July 1993 (age 26) 19 2 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club 2019 AFCON PRE
MF Luamba Ngoma (1994-01-22) 22 January 1994 (age 25) 6 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club 2019 AFCON PRE
MF Aaron Tshibola (1995-01-02) 2 January 1995 (age 24) 1 0 Scotland Kilmarnock 2019 AFCON PRE
MF Lema Mabidi (1993-06-11) 11 June 1993 (age 26) 23 0 Morocco Raja Casablanca v.  Congo, 18 November 2018
MF Ricky Tulengi (1993-02-02) 2 February 1993 (age 26) 9 0 Democratic Republic of the Congo Motema Pembe v.  Congo, 18 November 2018

FW Dieumerci Mbokani (1985-11-22) 22 November 1985 (age 33) 41 18 Belgium Royal Antwerp v.  Ivory Coast, 13 October 2019
FW Elia Meschak (1996-08-06) 6 August 1996 (age 23) 22 6 Democratic Republic of the Congo Mazembe 2019 AFCON
FW Britt Assombalonga (1992-12-06) 6 December 1992 (age 26) 8 1 England Middlesbrough 2019 AFCON
FW Kabongo Kasongo (1994-07-18) 18 July 1994 (age 25) 2 1 Saudi Arabia Al-Wehda 2019 AFCON PRE
FW Mundele Makusu (1992-03-27) 27 March 1992 (age 27) 10 5 Democratic Republic of the Congo Vita Club v.  Liberia, 24 March 2019
FW Ndombe Mubele (1994-04-17) 17 April 1994 (age 25) 45 9 Kazakhstan Astana v.  Congo, 18 November 2018

INJ Player withdrew from the squad due to an injury.
PRE Preliminary squad.
RET Player has retired from international football.
SUS Suspended from the national team.

Records[edit]

Most capped players[edit]

As of 13 October 2019[12]
Players in bold are still active, at least at club level.
# Name International Career Caps Goals
1. Issama Mpeko 2011– 71 1
2. Muteba Kidiaba 2002–2015 64 0
3. Chancel Mbemba 2013– 53 4
Zola Matumona 2002–2014 53 9
4. Trésor Mputu 2004– 52 14
5. Kimemba Mbayo 1996–2011 50 4
6. Ndombe Mubele 2013– 45 9
Youssouf Mulumbu 2008– 45 1
7. Lakuya Mbuta 1996–2010 44 3
Tsholola Tshinyama 2001–2012 44 1

Top goalscorers[edit]

As of 13 October 2019[13]
Players in bold are still active, at least at club level.
# Name International Career Goals Caps
1. Dieumerci Mbokani 2005– 18 41
2. Trésor Mputu 2004– 14 52
Shabani Nonda 2000–2008 14 22
3. Cédric Bakambu 2015– 12 27
Jean-Jacques Yemweni 2000–2007 12 16
5. Ngoy Kabongo 1981–1991 10 21
Ndaye Mulamba 1973–1976 10 20
6. Ndombe Mubele 2013– 9 45
Yannick Bolasie 2013– 9 42
7. Jonathan Bolingi 2014– 8 27

Results and fixtures[edit]

  Win   Draw   Loss

2018[edit]

2019[edit]

2020[edit]

Competitive record[edit]

FIFA World Cup[edit]

FIFA World Cup record FIFA World Cup qualification record
Year Round Position Pld W D* L GF GA Pld W D L GF GA
Uruguay 1930 Did not enter Declined participation
Italy 1934
France 1938
Brazil 1950
Switzerland 1954
Sweden 1958
Chile 1962
England 1966
Mexico 1970
West Germany 1974 Group stage 16th 3 0 0 3 0 14 11 8 1 2 20 4
Argentina 1978 Withdrew Withdrew
Spain 1982 Did not qualify 4 2 1 1 6 9
Mexico 1986 Banned Banned
Italy 1990 Did not qualify 6 2 2 2 7 7
United States 1994 3 0 1 2 1 3
France 1998 8 2 2 4 11 10
South Korea Japan 2002 10 4 2 4 17 18
Germany 2006 10 4 4 2 14 10
South Africa 2010 6 3 0 3 14 6
Brazil 2014 8 3 3 2 11 5
Russia 2018 8 6 1 1 20 10
Qatar 2022 To be determined To be determined
Canada Mexico United States 2026
Total Group stage 1/21 3 0 0 3 0 14 74 34 17 23 121 82

Africa Cup of Nations[edit]

Africa Cup of Nations
Titles: 2
Appearances: 19
Year Round Position Pld W D* L GF GA
Sudan 1957 Part of  Belgium
Egypt 1959
Ethiopia 1962 Not affiliated to CAF
Ghana 1963
Played as  Congo-Léopoldville
Tunisia 1965 Group stage 5th 2 0 0 2 2 8
Played as  Congo-Kinshasa
Ethiopia 1968 Champions 1st 5 4 0 1 10 2
Sudan 1970 Group stage 7th 3 0 1 2 2 5
Played as  Zaire
Cameroon 1972 Fourth place 4th 5 1 2 2 9 11
Egypt 1974 Champions 1st 6 4 1 1 14 8
Ethiopia 1976 Group stage 7th 3 0 1 2 3 6
Ghana 1978 Did not enter
Nigeria 1980 Did not qualify
Libya 1982
Ivory Coast 1984 Withdrew
Egypt 1986 Did not qualify
Morocco 1988 Group stage 7th 3 0 2 1 2 3
Algeria 1990 Did not qualify
Senegal 1992 Quarter-finals 6th 3 0 2 1 2 3
Tunisia 1994 Quarter-finals 7th 3 1 1 1 2 3
South Africa 1996 Quarter-finals 8th 3 1 0 2 2 3
Played as  DR Congo
Burkina Faso 1998 Third place 3rd 6 3 1 2 10 9
Ghana Nigeria 2000 Group stage 12th 3 0 2 1 0 1
Mali 2002 Quarter-finals 6th 4 1 1 2 3 4
Played as  DR Congo
Tunisia 2004 Group stage 15th 3 0 0 3 1 6
Egypt 2006 Quarter-finals 8th 4 1 1 2 3 6
Played as  DR Congo
Ghana 2008 Did not qualify
Angola 2010
Equatorial Guinea Gabon 2012
South Africa 2013 Group stage 10th 3 0 3 0 3 3
Equatorial Guinea 2015 Third place 3rd 6 1 4 1 7 7
Gabon 2017 Quarter-finals 6th 4 2 1 1 7 5
Egypt 2019 Round of 16 14th 4 1 1 2 6 6
Cameroon 2021 To be determined
Ivory Coast 2023
Guinea 2025
Total 2 Titles 19/32 73 20 24 29 88 99

African Nations Championship record[edit]

African Nations Championship
Appearances: 4
Year Round Position Pld W D* L GF GA
Ivory Coast 2009 Champions 1st 5 3 1 1 7 5
Sudan 2011 Quarter-finals 8th 4 1 1 2 3 5
South Africa 2014 7th 4 2 0 2 3 3
Rwanda 2016 Champions 1st 6 4 1 1 14 7
Morocco 2018 Did not qualify
Cameroon 2020 To be determined
Algeria 2022
Total Champions 4/5 19 10 3 6 27 20

African Games[edit]

Football at the African Games has been an under-23 tournament since 1991.
African Games record
Year Result GP W D L GS GA
Republic of the Congo 1965 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
Nigeria 1973 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
Algeria 1978 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
Kenya 1987 - 0 0 0 0 0 0
1991–present See DR Congo national under-23 football team
Total 4/4 0 0 0 0 0 0

List of coaches[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "The FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking". FIFA. 24 October 2019. Retrieved 24 October 2019.
  2. ^ Elo rankings change compared to one year ago. "World Football Elo Ratings". eloratings.net. 18 October 2019. Retrieved 18 October 2019.
  3. ^ "BBC SPORT | WORLD CUP | History | 1974: Zaire's show of shame". BBC News. 22 May 2002. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  4. ^ Courtney, Barrie (14 June 2007). "DR Congo (Zaire, Congo-Kinshasa) – List of International matches". FRSSF. Retrieved 10 November 2010.
  5. ^ "Leopards roar to Germany 1974". FIFA.com. Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  6. ^ "More than a game? Mobutu, Sport and Zairian Identity, 1965-1974" (PDF). Retrieved 21 September 2016.
  7. ^ "Explore". Channel 4. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  8. ^ "BBC Sport – Football – Zaire free-kick farce explained". BBC News. 28 May 2010. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  9. ^ "The Joy of Six: Symbolic reducers, including Roy Keane, Norman Whiteside and Benjamin Massing | Football". London: theguardian.com. 23 July 2007. Retrieved 15 November 2013.
  10. ^ "Football Team Nicknames". topendsports.com. Retrieved 22 September 2016.
  11. ^ https://actualite.cd/2019/11/05/elim-can-2021-finalement-25-leopards-retenus-pour-affronter-les-pantheres-gabon-et-les
  12. ^ Roberto Mamrud. "Congo-Kinshasa – Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 May 2018.
  13. ^ Roberto Mamrud. "Congo-Kinshasa – Record International Players". RSSSF. Retrieved 28 May 2018.

External links[edit]