The 2013 Africa Cup of Nations is fast approaching, and the 16 teams that will be aiming to become continental champions have been decided.
The 2013 Afcon takes place from 19 January to February 10, and it is to be held in the 2010 World Cup host nation, South Africa.
History will be written on February 10 at Soccer City in Johannesburg, as the 29th Africa Cup of Nations comes to a climax and a winner is crowned.
Goal.com introduces you to the 16 teams that will be taking part in this highly-anticipated competition. Here we profile the Leopards of DR Congo.
||Winners - 1968, 1974
|HOW THEY QUALIFIED
The DR Congo were pitted against minnows Seychelles in the first round on a two legged encounter, which the central Africans carried off 7-0 on aggregate. The Leopards were fortunate to be handed another team ranked below them in Equatorial Guinea for the second round, and they easily crushed them 6-2 on aggregate to make a return to the continental scene after their last appearance at Egypt 2006.
|THE COACH | CLAUDE LE ROY
Le Roy’s rich experience in African football from years of working as a coach in Cameroon, Senegal, Ghana and the DR Congo has earned him a respectable and trustworthy status, not only in sub-Saharan Africa but beyond. He has been able to steer the Congolese team back to the right direction by booking a place at the 2013 Afcon and helping local officials overcome deep doubts about the once brilliant outfit that had long remained in oblivion.
|THE CAPTAIN | TRESOR MPUTU
Tresor Mputu is the captain of the DR Congo national team as well as that of his club, TP Mazembe, which won the 2009 and 2010 Caf Champions League. The 26-year-old striker raised hopes for the birth of another Samuel Eto’o in Africa when he shot into the limelight in 2009, winning the Glo-Caf Best African Player on the continent and best player of the African Championship of Nations maiden edition.
However, his career hit a snag when he was handed a 12-month global ban for physically assaulting a referee during a match between his side and a Rwandan club. He was able to bounce back to top form after serving out his suspension, notching three goals in the qualifying campaign and delivering clever assists, which contributed to the Leopards’ overall triumph. He appears to have matured into a more responsible player on the pitch, which led to him being named as the team’s new captain.
|THE STAR PLAYER | DIEUMERCI MBOKANI
Dieumerci Mbokani was called up to the team in 2006 while he was playing at TP Mazembe, which loaned him out to Belgian side Anderlecht, where he caught the attention of Standard Liege following his inspiring debut season. After spending three years at the Stade Maurice Dufrasne Liege, he moved to France for a one-year stint at Monaco before making a glorious return to Anderlecht.
The 26-year-old striker exhibits a great off-the-ball intelligence and his ability to cut into the middle from the flanks while holding the ball and outpacing his markers, contributes to his scoring capabilities, which coaches say makes him quite outstanding coupled with his stamina and fitness. He is one of the nine top scorers of the 2013 Afcon qualifying.
|THE EMERGING TALENT | DEO KANGA
Deo Kanda scored the decisive goal that handed TP Mazembe the 2010 Caf Champions League title and he has become a local star ever since. He was summoned to the national team a year later and has played two games in 2014 World Cup qualifying.
Although he plays as a supporting striker, he can perform the role of an outlet player, connecting with crosses from midfielders and defenders. His near six-foot height gives him an aerial advantage and he can also fall back to the middle of the park to assist in ball distribution. Kanda has a bright future, and he will be one to watch at the 2013 Afcon.
Issama, Kasusula, Kimwaki, Mongongou
Milambo, Mutombo, Mputu, Matumona