Congo coach overwhelmed by ‘historic’ championship

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DR Congo celebrate after winning the African Nations Championship for a second time in Rwanda on Sunday. 

By Andrew Mwanguhya

Posted  Tuesday, February 9   2016 at  02:00

In Summary

SOCCER. DR Congo showed that they have come of age with a clinical display against Mali in a one-sided final at Amahoro Stadium on Sunday

There was more to celebrate for African coaches at the just-ended African Nations Championship (Chan) in Kigali, Rwanda with locally-bred tacticians finishing first and second at the fourth edition of the domestic players’ tournament on Sunday. Even more to celebrate for the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo) was that their authoritative 3-0 final procession over Mali at Amahoro Stadium underlined their steady ascendancy on the continent.
The two-time African champions finished third at the 2015 Nations Cup.

They also saw TP Mazembe, the country’s most powerful club and best in Africa for last six years, (three Caf Champions League titles in the said period to back the claim), clinch the continental club honours again last year.
In marching to the most comfortable of final victories here against a hitherto unbeaten Mali and claiming their second Chan title since their first in 2009, DR Congo were coming of age. And they will surely be gunning for 2017 Afcon trophy at this rate, once the small matter of qualification is done with.

Amidst all this is the disarmingly calm DRC coach, Florent Ibenge, who led the Leopards to last year’s bronze at Afcon.

Here he was now, lifting the Chan title thanks to a brace from the electrifying Elia Meschak and a late strike by Jonathan Bolingi.

Lost for words
“Personally, I’m lost for words,” said Ibenge, who vied for the title with his Mali opposite Djibril Drame –the second time two African coaches were battling in the final and third in four editions they were winning it.
“The joy I feel in my heart cannot be described. It is historic for us and for this generation of players, it is a good boost for their careers.

“The most important element has been the level of Fair Play exhibited at the tournament. Even when we beat the host nation (Rwanda) at the quarter finals, the locals cheered us on as we made way from the stadium to our hotel. This is not something you see in Kinshasa.”

The top three countries also served to remind us that their feat was no accident. While DR Congo and their clubs TP Mazembe and AS Vita’s continental exploits cannot be overstated, Mali were 2015 U-17 World Cup finalists and U-20 World Cup semifinalists.

“DR Congo deserves the victory,” said a graceful Drame, the Mali coach, “They are a different team from the others we played against.

“At the previous Chan, we were eliminated at the quarter finals. This time, we were losing finalists. Why not win it the next time in 2018?”

DRC: $750,000 (Shs2.6b)
Mali: $400,000 (Shs1.4b)
Semifinal losers: $250,000 each (Shs855m)
Quarter-final losers: $175,000 each (Shs598m)
3rd in Group: $125,000 each (Shs427m)
4th in Group: $100,000 (Shs342m)


Group A
Rwanda 3 2 1 0 4 5 6
Cote d’Ivoire 3 2 1 0 5 2 6
Morocco 3 1 1 1 4 2 4
Gabon 3 0 2 1 2 6 1
Group B
Cameroon 3 2 0 1 4 1 7
DR Congo 3 2 1 0 8 5 6
Angola 3 1 2 0 4 6 3
Ethiopia 3 0 2 1 1 5 1

Group C
Tunisia 3 1 0 2 8 3 5
Guinea 3 1 0 2 5 4 5
Nigeria 3 1 1 1 5 3 4
Niger 3 0 2 1 3 11 1

Group D
Zambia 3 2 0 1 2 0 7
Mali 3 1 0 2 3 2 5
Uganda 3 0 1 2 3 4 4
Zimbabwe 3 0 2 1 1 3 1
*Top two in each group progressed to quarterfinals


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