Friday Jul 03, 2020. 11:00
DR Congo national team coach Christian Nsengi-Biembe says it is his ambition to return the Leopards to the World Cup for the first time in almost 50 years.
DR Congo made their first and only appearances at the global tournament in 1974 – they were known as Zaire at the time – and they have experienced nothing but heartbreak in their attempts to return to the World Cup.
Their quest to reach the 2018 finals in Russia ended in a near-miss, as they fell just one point short of qualifiers Tunisia, but this time around Nsengi-Biembe is hopeful of a different outcome.
DRC find themselves in a group along with Benin, Madagascar and Tanzania and will need to finish top of the pile to advance into the final playoff round.
“Every time we start a qualification campaign, we aim to reach the World Cup,” he told FIFA.com.
“That was the case before me, and it’ll be the same after me. We’re ranked among the top ten teams in Africa, so it’s only natural that we aspire to World Cup participation. Given our current squad, Qatar 2022 must be our goal.”
The Leopards coach added, “We have some information and data on our opponents, particularly Benin and Tanzania. As for Madagascar, I assessed them at the AFCON finals when I was our technical manager.
“We’ll need to be at our best against our opponents, as they’ll be motivated by the fact that we’re among the top ten in Africa. There are no easy opponents anymore. We need to work hard to finish top of the group.”
Madagascar eliminated DRC from the 2019 AFCON, but Nsengi-Biembe has dismissed the idea that they will be out for revenge in the 2022 qualifiers.
“We’ll respect all our opponents,” he explained. “It not won’t be a revenge exercise. Revenge isn’t what will motivate my team.
“What I remember about that game is that it ended 2-2 and we lost in a penalty shootout. We learned a lot more about them in that game, and they’re certainly a strong and disciplined side.”