There is a great deal at stake in this clash as the Mena seek to make amends after losing their first game while the Leopards battle for maximum points
Fatoukouma, Dankowa, Chikoto, Koudize
Issoufou, Moutari, Lacina, Boubacar
Mpeko, Kasusula, Mabiala, Mongungou
Mulumbu, Kabangu, Makiadi
Mbokani, Mputu, Lualua
DR Congo will attempt to get their first win of this year’s Africa Cup of Nations when they lock horns with the Mena of Niger at the Nelson Mandela Bay Sports Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.
Both countries are yet to cross paths in any level of football and this Group B clash promises fireworks as each of the teams aim at getting the maximum points which will urge them closer to the knockout stage.
On paper, it might look like a David and Goliath affair, but considering how the Nigeriens held Mali until the last minute before succumbing, there is much at stake in this epic clash.
With players such as Moussa Maazou, who has previously played at the highest level in France and Russia as well as Koffi Dan Kowa of Esperance Sportif du Zarziz, Abdul Karim Lacina of Cotton Sports Garoua, and Issoufou Boubacar Garba of Hammam, the Nigeriens can cause havoc if underrated.
The Leopards are also brimming with confidence after coming from two goals down to draw with group favourites Ghana, and they will be hoping to build on that and record their first win in this campaign.
Tressor Mputu, midfield anchor Youssoup Mulumbu, veteran Lomana Tressor Lua Lua and the free scoring Dieumerci Mbokani can lessen the load of the Leopards if they avoid complacency.
An interesting department of the game will be in the middle where the energy-sapping Mulumbu will battle for supremacy with young midfielder Amadou Moutari of French side Le Mans, who is likely to start.
The gangling central defence duo of Kowa and Koroumah Fatoukouma will also have an arduous task in their hands in keeping Mputu and Mbokani at bay.
|DID YOU KNOW?|
Niger’s heaviest defeat in their football history was handed to them by DR Congo’s neighbours Congo Brazzaville, who walloped them by 10-0 in Cote d’Ivoire on December 27, 1961.
DR Congo qualified to the next stage the last time they played in Group B of the Afcon which was in Egypt 2006.
- Niger have the least number of European-based players in this year’s Afcon.
The last time Claude Le Roy faced a German coach in the Afcon was in 2008 when Otto Pfister masterminded Cameroon’s 1-0 win over Ghana.
Niger’s German coach Gernort Rohr has lost his last two Afcon games against teams handled by French coaches (Alain Girese of Mali in the 2010 Afcon when he was coaching Gabon, and Patrice Cateron of Mali in the Group B game of the ongoing tournament).
- This is Niger’s third major Caf tournament participation in a row - 2011 Chan, 2012 and 2013 Afcon editions.