Leopards ready to take the fight to Atlas Lions

Leopards ready to take the fight to Atlas Lions
Hector Cuper coach of DR Congo

by Staff Reporter

Thursday Mar 24, 2022. 10:00

DR Congo are determined not to pass up the rare chance of reaching the World Cup when they take on Morocco at Stade des Martyrs on Friday in the playoffs.

Kick-off is at 5pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)

The Leopards qualified for the third round after finishing ahead of Benin, Tanzania and Madagascar in a closely contested Group J.

Hector Cuper’s side beat the Squirrels 2-0 in the final match of the second round to edge them by a single point in the group following three wins, two draws and one defeat.

The Central Africans have only played once then since, losing 1-0 to Bahrain in Riffa on February 1.

Cuper is aware of daunting challenge facing his players in the crunch double-header, but insists they are resolved to make their own history by qualifying for the showpiece event for the first time since 1974.

“We know facing Morocco will not be that easy, but the players are determined to go and give their best because this is another chance to qualify for the FIFA World Cup,” the Argentine tactician said.

The Atlas Lions cruised into the playoffs with a perfect record of six wins from six in Group I to finish 12 points ahead of second-placed Guinea-Bissau.

Vahid Halilhodzic’s men went unbeaten in their opening four matches at the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations before bowing out in the quarter-finals after losing 2-1 to Egypt in extra time.

The squad stands to earn 130 million dirhams (€12,18M) if they book their place at the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.

“The bonus was previously 100 million dirhams, but the last FIFA Council increased it in order to prepare well for the World Cup,” Moroccan Football Federation spokesperson Mohamed Makrouf said in a statement.

The head-to-head record is evenly split between the two teams, with one win each and a draw in their previous three meetings. The most recent result was a 1-1 draw in a friendly on 13 October 2020.

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