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DR Congo-Madagascar preview: Must win matchup in Group J for both teams

Two teams looking to climb out of early holes formed by disappointing results in their opening two FIFA World Cup qualifying matches face off on Thursday in the opening set of matches in Africa’s qualifying section when the Democratic Republic of Congo host Madagascar. The Congolese followed a poor home draw against Tanzania by accomplishing another 1-1 draw at Benin, but the Leopards and manager Héctor Cúper know a win at the Stade des Martyrs is essential and the Argentine tactician indicated he would maintain his 4-4-2 formation despite external criticism.

Meanwhile, off the field issues and transitioning from depending on a veteran core that continues to age are the main problems keeping Madagascar from competing. With zero points from their opening two games, it is a “do or die” situation for the Barea and manager Éric Rabésandratana acknowledged that his team will likely be facing an inspired Congolese side on Thursday. Political issues within Malagasy football have cast a shadow over the qualification campaign with a general assembly meeting deciding to oust embattled Malagasy Football Federation president Raoul Rabetoko, who responded by excluding four members of the Executive Committee in an ongoing power struggle. In addition, multiple prominent Malagasy players based abroad will not be available for the match.

Plenty of news items relating to both teams are below from the respective French-language media of both countries.

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