The DR of Congo has put a week of dramas behind itself with an impressive 1-0 win over North African nation Morocco in Group C AFCON action overnight.
DR of Congo had gone on a strike last Friday owing to unpaid bonuses but it quickly put that to rest in gaining a valuable three points in its Group C clash.
However, they didn’t make the brightest of starts and were fortunate to not find itself behind when Morocco’s Mbark Boussoufa struck the woodwork.
In a game where they struggled to match the possession and territory of their opponents, DR of Congo would have delighted to have hit the lead in the second half through Junior Kabananga.
Kabananga met an inswinging cross that had first been cleared off the line. He acrobatically lashed home a skimming shot that gave Morocco’s keeper Mohan Mohamedi no chance of keeping out.
However, the Leopards had to do things the hard way as they was first reduced to ten men when substitute Lomalisa Mutambala was booked twice in 16 minutes.
It got even bleaker in the closing stages as they were down to nine men when Northampton defender Gabriel Zakuani went down with an injury and was taken off for treatment. To Zakuani’s credit, he hobbled back on during stoppage time and helped the Leopards to an important win.
Morocco continued to plug away up the other end and should have pulled level in the dying minutes through substitute Youssef El-Arabi. First he glanced a header wide of the goal from a worked set piece and minutes later hit a shot straight at DR Congo keeper Ley Matampi who parried it away. It was to be the last chance of the game for the North African side who had to be content with a 1-0 defeat.
The pressure is sure to mount on Morocco manager Herev Renard who took the Ivory Coast to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations title. The Morocco FA have said that anything less than a Quarter Final appearance won’t do.
With matches against the reigning champions Ivory Coast and a plucky Togo side, there could be some sleepless nights for the Frenchman.
In the other Group C match, Ivory Coast and Togo played out a dour 0-0 draw.