DR Congo storm Afcon semis from goal behind, Nigeria through

Saturday February 03 2024

The Democratic Republic of Congo players celebrate after scoring the team's third goal at Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium in Abidjan, Ivory Coast on February 2, 2024. PHOTO | REUTERS


 The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) came from a goal behind to beat Guinea 3-1 in their Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarter-final at the Alassane Ouattara Olympic Stadium on Friday and join Nigeria in the last four.

Chancel Mbemba, Yoane Wissa and Arthur Masuaku scored the goals as the Congolese recovered from conceding an early penalty to secure victory and a semi-final berth for the first time since 2015.

Mbemba had given away a penalty when he shoved Mohamed Bayo in the box to allow the Guinea striker to score after 20 minutes but the Congolese captain made up for his error seven minutes later with an excellent left footed finish.

DR Congo then had a penalty of their own in the 65th minute which Wissa tucked away and Masuaku completed the victory by scoring directly from a free kick near the touchline eight minutes from time.

Read: Clashes of giants anticipated in Afcon round of 16

The audacious set-piece swung into the near post catching the goalkeeper out of position.


Guinea, looking to make a first-ever semi-final appearance, might have had a first minute penalty as Mbemba appeared to handle the ball in attempting to clear the first attack of the game but their appeals were turned down by the referee.

However, Mbemba was not as fortunate when he shoulder-charged Bayo and handed Guinea the opportunity to take the lead.

Mbemba more than atoned, however, with a superb left footed finish at the back post, hit from a tight angle as Guinea failed to clear a corner, for the equaliser.

Julian Jeanvier then fouled substitute Silas Katompa to offer the Congolese a penalty of their own which Wissa converted.

Masuaku's brilliant effort put the cherry on top of a convincing effort which came after four successive draws at the tournament in the Ivory Coast for the Congolese.

They drew all three group games but still finished second behind Morocco in Group F and then after a 1-1 stalemate with Egypt, won on post-match penalties in the last 16 at the weekend.

Read: Afcon: S.Africa shock Morocco, Mali through to quarters

DR Congo, who won the last of two Cup of Nations titles in 1974 when they were still known as Zaire, now take on either hosts Ivory Coast or Mali in the semi-final in Abidjan on Wednesday.

Nigeria first to book semis ticket

Nigeria were the first side to book a semi-final berth at the Afcon after Ademola Lookman's first-half goal ensured a 1-0 win over Angola in the last eight on Friday.

Lookman finished off a flying run down the left by winger Moses Simon, who skipped the challenge of defender Kialonda Gaspar to break free and then teed up his team mate for his third goal of the tournament.

The 26-year-old's 41st-minute strike at the Felix Houphouet-Boigny Stadium was enough to set up a semi-final meeting on Wednesday against either the Cape Verde Islands or South Africa, who play their quarter-final on Saturday.

Nigeria have now qualified for the semi-final in 13 of their last 15 Cup of Nations appearances and been elevated to the role of favourites at a tournament where almost all the heavyweight contenders have been dumped out.

Angola had their chances, notably hitting the woodwork through substitute Zini in the 59th minute as he was put through by a clever defence-splitting pass, but Nigeria proved the superior side.

Read: Afcon: Why fans are unhappy with Nigeria in last 16

The Angolans, who have never been further than the last eight in previous Cup of Nations tournaments, came close to the lead inside four minutes. A corner was flicked on at the near post and Mabululu saw his shot from two yards brilliantly saved by Nigeria goalkeeper Stanley Nwabili.

Victor Osimhen had Nigeria’s first real opportunity midway through the first half but his header was too close to Angola keeper Antonio Dominique.

Nigeria had better chances in the second half with Zaidu Sanusi and Alex Iwobi missing with their shots and Simon cutting inside again to set up a chance but having his effort blocked.

It was a frustrating night for African Footballer of the Year Osimhen who headed home a 75th-minute freekick, but it was disallowed after a VAR check.

Five minutes later he was put through by Lookman but delayed his effort and got dispossessed by the Angolan defence.