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The Leopards and the Indomitable Lions still believe in the possibility of reaching the 2012 Afcon finals, even though their chances hang by a thread

Kick-off: Friday, October 7, 2011 at 18:00 CET. Stade des Martyrs

Between qualifying and building a future team

The Democratic Republic of Congo have a slim chance of qualifying for the 2012 African Cup of Nations (Afcon) after Group E leaders Senegal snatched the automatic spot in the previous round. The best second-placed team berth is still at stake but may not go the Congolese way, even if they down visiting Cameroon on Friday. It will depend on how other encounters of the final matchday finish, with teams like Ghana, Sudan, South Africa, Guinea, and Zambia looking more likely candidates.

However, the two-time former continental champions, whose last appearance at the tournament dates back to 2006, are launching a reconstruction project for the entire outfit, according to newly-appointed coach Claude Le Roy. The programme starts with the meeting against Cameroon and the goal is not necessarily to qualify for next year’s tournament.

Instead, the focus is placed on the 2013 Afcon. After forcing the Indomitable Lions to a 1-1 draw back in Cameroon during the reverse fixture, the Leopards are confident of a win on home ground this time, mostly for the sake of their fans.

Till the final whistle proves them wrong

Even though many local pundits and fans are certain Cameroon will no longer qualify for the 2012 Afcon, the team and their coach still keep the faith and seem far from believing they will miss out on the 28th edition of the African Cup of Nations that is coming to their west African backyard. Coach Javier Clemente will save his position if he carries it through, and skipper Samuel Eto’o and the rest of the group would make happy the already dejected fans if a place for Gabon and Equatorial Guinea is booked by the end of the weekend.

However, the odds are against them qualifying, as the damage was done back in the fourth round when Cameroon squared off goalless at home against Senegal, with Eto’o missing a fortuitous last-minute penalty.

Beating the Leopards in Kinshasa may not be impossible, but will Cameroon vie for the best loser spot against other contenders, who seem statistically better placed? Whatever the case, the Lions will play their game as well as they can and finally make fans shift the blame of not qualifying from them to the football gods.

TEAM NEWS

DR Congo

Frenchman Claude Le Roy, who coached the team between 2004 and 2006, easily adapted upon his arrival, and has set up camp at the Wapal Hotel in the Kinshasa district of Ma Campagne, where the group began preparations on October 1. No major injuries have been reported. However, French-born Bolton forward Gael Kakuta, whom Le Roy had been courting, refused to switch nationality to play for the Leopards.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Kidiaba Muteba, Dibulana Guelord, Lutunu Doule

Defenders: Kimwaki Joel, Kasusula Kilisho, Bokese Gladys, Mihayo Kazembe, Ilonga Ilifo, Didi Kitumb, Issama Mpeko

Midfielders: Ilongo Ngasanya, Bedi Mbenze, Magola Mapanda, Mukenga Mukeni, Kalala Kabongo, Galenge Gilabi, Basilua Jeremie, Lema Mabidi, Ngoy Emomo

Attackers: Mwanza Lemba, Angani Kayiba, Ngandu Junior, Eric Nyemba, Deo Kande, Mputu Tresor, Pierre Bamato

Cameroon

The Indomitable Lions have been hit by injuries and absenteeism ahead of the clash. Schalke 04’s Joel Matip and Anzhi Makhachkala defender Benoit Angbwa have been sidelined, while SD Lomena striker Ngako Duvalois and Dinamo Bucarest's Andogcho Mbuta are yet to join the squad due to administrative issues.

Squad

Goalkeepers: Idriss Carlos Kameni, Effala Konguep, Jules Goda

Defenders: Jean-Patrick Abouna Ndzana, Nicolas Nkoulou, Sebastien Bassong, Gaeetan Bong

Midfielders: Eyong Takang Enoh, Dany Nounkeu, Eric Djemba Djemba, Henri Bedimo, Landry Nguemo, Alexandre Song, Edgar Salli, Matthew Andongcho

Attackers: Eric Choupo-Moting, Benjamin Moukandjo, Samuel Eto’o, Paul Alo’o Efoulou, Henri Ntsama, Leonard Kweuke

PREDICTION

DR Congo will strive to stop Cameroon from amending their odds in Kinshasa, but the Lions will not want to finish in shame, so an interesting battle awaits.

DR Congo 2-1 Cameroon

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