25 January 2013

Congo-Kinshasa/Niger: Missed Chances Give Leopards Uphill Task

Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix
Cheick Diabate of Mali, left, as the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations.

Port Elizabeth — The Democratic Republic of Congo need to recover from a disappointing result in order to have any chance of making the African Nations Cup quarter-finals following their goalless draw with Niger in Port Elizabeth on Thursday.

Missed chances denied Congo what was expected to be a routine win and leaves them now having to beat Mali in Durban on Monday.

"It won't be easy but it's a match that will be very passionate," predicted coach Claude Le Roy, participating in his seventh Nations Cup and now in danger of losing his record of having reached the last eight in each of the past six tournaments.

Kassaly Daouda in Niger's goal stood between the two teams and earned for his country a first-ever point at the Nations Cup. Niger are playing at their second tournament after losing all three group games last time out in 2012.

Daouda's saves from Dieumerci Mbokani in the first half took the spirit out of the Congolese players and offered Niger a small piece of history.

It was a result that Niger's coach Gernot Rohr greeted with much delight, praising the progress in the performance of his players from the first match when they lost late to Mali.

Niger can also still qualify but would have to beat Ghana when they meet at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium in Port Elizabeth on Monday at the same time as the other Group B match.

"We have to believe we can still make it although it is obviously going to be a difficult assignment against a very good Ghana side," he told reporters after the 0-0 draw on Thursday.

Niger created many more chances in Thursday's game than they had in their opening encounter and saw Modibo Sidibe hit the post after just four minutes.

But they still used a defensive approach, relying on the counter attack to set up their chances.

To beat Ghana they are going to have to be much more ambitious.

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