As Guinea and DR Congo battle for semi-final spot
Guinea and DR Congo will clash on Friday with a coveted TotalEnergies CAF Africa Cup of Nations semi-final place on the line when they meet at the Alassane Ouattara Stadium in Ebimpé.
It will be the fourth TotalEnergies CAF AFCON encounter between the nations, with DR Congo yet to beat Guinea in three previous group stage meetings, including a 2-1 loss in their last meeting in 2004.
DR Congo has reached the quarter-finals without winning a single game in standard time.
But defender Gédéon Kalulu believes psychological victories can help them progress.
“Certainly, we can note two victories on the psychological front. The first is having beaten a top 5 side on penalties, and the second is not conceding many goals,” said Kalulu.
The return of critical players Naby Keita and Serhou Guirassy from injury is expected to boost Guinea.
“Naby and Serhou are getting better and better. They are two critical assets for our team. Their entries in previous matches were crucial for us,” noted Guinea midfielder Amadou Diawara.
With a first AFCON semi-final since 2015 on the line, Guinea striker Sory Kaba stressed the need for efficiency.
“Against a compact Congolese team, we must be rigorous and efficient. The team that makes the least mistakes will go through,” Kaba stated.
After a scrappy Round of 16 wins, both sides know a clinical performance will be required to keep their AFCON dreams alive and reach the final four.
WHAT THEY SAID
Kaba Diawara, Guinea’s coach, said, “We are ready for the battle, both mentally and physically. We entered this AFCON conditioned to play seven finals. If it comes to penalties, we will go for it.”
Sébastien Desabre, DR Congo’s coach, said, “The team is highly motivated. We know we can achieve more in this tournament, which, for me, is not the AFCON of surprises but of hard work. The boys are on a mission, and we will not give up under any circumstances.”
- Mohamed Bayo has scored 2 of Guinea’s three goals in the Africa Cup of Nations 2023. He could become the first Guinean to score three goals in a single AFCON since Pascal Feindouno in 2006 (4).
- Meschack Elia has been directly involved in 3 of DR Congo’s last four goals in the Africa Cup of Nations (1 goal, two assists). He is the only player for the Leopards to have both scored (1) and provided an assist (1) in the last two participations of DR Congo in the tournament (2019 and 2023).