As the knockout stages are underway at the TotalEnergies Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON, in Côte d’Ivoire, DR Congo and Egypt clash in the round of 16 on Sunday, both seeking to advance to the quarterfinals.
DR Congo is returning to this stage of AFCON for the first time since 2019. After three straight group stage draws, the Leopards are eager to prove themselves.
“We know what we need to improve,” said DR Congo coach Sébastien Desabre, who has revitalised the squad.
Without injured star Mohamed Salah, Egypt faces questions as well. “We knew that we would only settle for the finals,” said Egypt’s manager Rui Vitoria. Despite injuries, he affirmed, “We are ambitious.”
DR Congo’s attack has struggled to convert chances, which they hope to fix. But Desabre sees “an interesting margin for improvement” for his Leopards. “My players are motivated,” he added.
Meanwhile, Egypt knows it must step up without Salah. “All the teams in this competition are equal,” Vitoria noted. Still, he said Egypt is “ready but not 100% due to our numerous injuries.”
Despite being tagged ‘underdogs’, DR Congo is eager for the challenge. “Clearly, Egypt is the favourite in this match. We will be challengers and this position suits us too,” said Desabre.
According to him, his team wants to show that DR Congo is back on the big stage.
With the quarterfinals spots up for grabs, both teams recognise Sunday’s match is a final as the winner will move one step closer to AFCON glory by facing the winner from Equatorial Guinea and Guinea on Sunday.
Salah was reported to return to Liverpool for rehab after picking up an injury. Liverpool disclosed this in a statement on the club’s official website on last Sunday.
Salah sustained an injury and was substituted in the first half of Egypt’s 2-2 draw with Ghana on Thursday. The 31-year-old player suffered a hamstring injury and has since undergone scans.
Egypt vs DR Congo will be played at the Stade Laurent Pokou Stadium in San Pedro at 9pm Nigerian time.