Monday Nov 17, 2014. 11:13
DR Congo will head into their final 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at home to Sierra Leone on Wednesday with only a slight hope of securing a place in the finals in Equatorial Guinea next year.
Kick-off at the Stade Tata Raphael in Kinshasa is set for 16:00 CAT in the afternoon.
The Leopards find themselves paced third in Group D, three points adrift of second-placed Cote d’Ivoire.
In order for them to finish in the top two of the group and secure a passage to AFCON 2015, they need to defeat the Leone Stars and hope that log leaders Cameroon (who are already sure of their place in the finals) beat Ivory Coast in Abidjan.
This would see DRC and the Elephants level on points, but the former would assume second position on the basis of a superior head-to-head record (the teams beat each other away from home for an aggregate of 5-5 across their two matches, but DRC scored four away goals) and therefore secure qualification.
Assuming Cameroon do not defeat Ivory Coast away, DRC could still qualify as the highest ranked third-placed team, though they are currently on the fourth best in that category, with all of Guinea, Congo and Egypt ahead of them.
The odds seem to very much against coach Florent Ibenge and his side, who have so captured the imagination in this qualifying campaign, particularly in their 4-3 away win over Ivory Coast last month.
However, the 1-0 defeat to Cameroon in Yaoundé on Saturday was a severe blow to their hopes and it seems as if they will not qualify for a fourth time in the space of five Nations Cup tournaments.
As for the Leone Stars, their 5-1 loss at ‘home’ to Ivory Coast (the match was played in Abidjan due to the Ebola epidemic in Sierra Leone) put paid to any slim hopes they had and it is certain they will finish bottom of the group.
However, they will at least try to salvage their first win of the qualifiers and avenge the 2-0 defeat they suffered at the hands of DRC back in September.