DR Congo have Bolasie skills and Mulumbu steel for AFCON
The Democratic Republic of Congo reached the Africa Cup of Nations finals by being best of the rest. Ranked as the third-placed team with the most points in qualifying, the Leopards are unlikely to change their spots in Equatorial Guinea.
In essence, that means they will be expansive and open. DR Congo only scored one more goal (10) than they conceded en route to making it to the finals.
They won as many games as they lost (three) in qualifying, and will fancy their chances from a pool that also contains 2012 winners Zambia, North African threat Tunisia and Atlantic Ocean outfit Cape Verde.
National coach Florent Ibenge will be relying on Peterborough United’s Gabriel Zakuani to help tighten things up in defence. Another to watch out for at the back is set piece threat Cedric Mongongu (Evian), who chipped in with two goals in qualifying.
Leopards captain Youssouf Mulumbu is a midfield mainstay and effective back four shield for West Bromwich Albion, serving a succession of head coaches well. More of the same is expected from him on international duty here.
While Mulumbu anchors things in the engine room alongside Werder Bremen’s Cedric Makiadi, their graft is supplemented by the guile of Crystal Palace winger Yannick ‘Yala’ Bolasie. His brace helped DR Congo beat Sierra Leone and snatched that best third-place spot for the finals.
In attack, Tresor Mputu is the last of that Lomana LuaLua and Shabani Nonda generation of exciting forward talents to have worn a Leopards jersey. The biggest scoring contribution in qualifying came from Terek Grozny frontman Jeremy Bokila, though, with three.
Ibenge will know there are squads with far greater strength in depth at the disposal of other coaches, so he has to be realistic. DR Congo should face a tough quarter-final if, as expected, they come through a pretty favourable Group B.