Monday Feb 02, 2015. 16:15
Congo were very close to reaching a dream Africa Cup of Nations semi-final, but for a lapse in concentration and inexperience, according to coach Claude Le Roy.
Congo, who were only re-instated in the qualifying tournament for the 2015 Nations Cup after Rwanda fielded an ineligible player, were just 25 minutes away from an historic semi-final before DRC Congo fought back from two goals down to win 4-2.
Before then, they upstaged champions Nigeria to qualify for Equatorial Guinea, where they finished top of a group that also had hosts Equatorial Guinea and last tournament’s beaten finalists Burkina Faso.
“When we were 2-0 up, we were not far from the dream,” said Le Roy.
“But we became too euphoric after we scored our second goal, we also missed a little bit of experience at this level of the game. And we paid for it.
“When you are leading 2-0, it is not finished.
“We ought to have been a lot more patient and concentrated, we should not have allowed DRC to come back to this game. But we were not.
“This was a big disappointment for my team. They did everything to win this match because what we achieved with this young team in a year was exceptional. We are very disappointed.”
He added: “DRC showed they are an unpredictable team. They did well to come back from 2-0 and win. When they begun pulling back the goals, they restored their hope
The vastly experienced French coach also blamed the fourth referee for not promptly effecting a Congo change when one of ther players was injured and during that delay, DR Congo scored one of their goals.
“The fourth referee delayed our substitution after one of my players was injured and we wanted to replace him and it was that time that they got one of their goals,” he complained.
“So, we played 10 against 11 and that was when we conceded a goal because a referee was not diligent enough.
“At this level of the game you don’t except mistakes like that by the fourth referee. This I can’t support.
“It’s football and except for this big mistake by this referee, the refereeing has been very good since the start of the competition.”
The Congo coach maintained they never took DR Congo lightly.
“We have always known that DR Congo have huge potentials. You don’t win 4-1 (against Ivory Coast) in Abidjan, if you don’t have such potential,” he stated.
Congo skipper Prince Oniangue said they were disappointed they did not qualify for the semi-finals.
“What we have done is remarkable up till now and we thought we could go farther, but we didn’t” said the Reims midfielder.
“We came from nowhere since the qualifying tournament. We were winning 2-0, but in the end we couldn’t manage this advantage.
“There were positives to take from this experience. We will now look to the future, but we are all very disappointed – the team, our country and everybody.”