DR Congo stage stunning comeback to reach African Cup semifinal
Jeremy Bokila netted a second-half brace as DR Congo claimed a remarkable 4-2 comeback victory over Congo to reach the semi-finals of the African Nations Cup at Estadio de Bata on Saturday.
Congo took a 2-0 lead thanks to goals after the break from Ferebory Dore and Koulossa Thievy before Dieumerci Mbokani pulled one back and Bolika’s double sandwiched Joel Kimwaki’s header to complete the comeback.
The win sees the Leopards reach the semi-finals of the competition for the first time since 1998.
The match got off to slow start before DR Congo came close with numerous chances in succession.
Florent Ibenge’s men could have got on the scoresheet after nine minutes with an opener but Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie’s long-range effort dipped too late and hit the top of the net.
Then Chancel Mbemba headed the ball over the crossbar from Cedrick Mabwati’s corner and a minute later Dynamo Kiev striker Mbokani was unlucky as he fired straight at Congo goalkeeper Christoffer Mafoumbi with a close-range volley and was denied.
The two-times winners kept the pressure on but in a rare chance Congo looked like they might take the lead midway through the first half but the opposing defence cleared any danger posed by Thievy’s through ball before taking it back down to the other end.
Mabwati forced a diving save out of Mafoumbi 10 minutes before the break with a shot from 12 yards out as DR Congo pushed for an opener, while Jean Kasusula sent his free-kick sailing over the bar as the half wore on.
The Red Devils had a great chance on the break before Thievy was brought down by Cedric Makiadi resulting in a free-kick which Delvin N’Dinga powered just over the bar thanks to a little touch from stopper Robert Kidiaba’s fingers.
DR Congo lost Gabriel Zakuani to injury early in the second half and he was replaced by Kimwaki but it was Claude Le Roy’s side that looked more likely to break the deadlock.
Bokila hit the underside of Mafoumbi’s crossbar seven minutes into the second half in the best chance of the game so far by either side, but moments later their opponents were celebrating as they took the lead.
Dore was well placed in the centre of the penalty box and slotted home Olympiacos midfielder Ndinga’s great cross in from the left with a close-range finish.
Down at the other end the Leopards came close to netting an equaliser but Mafoumbi did well to send Makiadi’s free-kick into the stands.
Thievy fired home Congo’s second just after the hour mark as he tapped in from six yards but DR Congo pulled a goal back moments later as Mbokani picked the ball up from Bolasie and made no mistake as he reduced the deficit from close range.
Ibenge’s side levelled matters with after 75 minutes as Bokila fired a strong effort towards the Red Devils goal and the diving Mafoumbi could do nothing to stop the ball hitting the top corner.
And they took the lead for the first time with eight minutes remaining as substitute Kimwaki headed home Neeksens Kebano’s free-kick before Bolika completed the comeback as he beat Mafoumbi to fire home his side’s fourth at the death.