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AFCON 2023 Quarterfinal Preview: DR Congo vs Guinea

The second quarterfinal on Friday at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations features two teams who utilized strong defenses to reach this stage but have yet to unlock their attacking potential. DR Congo have draws from all four of their matches but made it past Egypt in the Round of 16 courtesy of resilience in the penalty kick shootout and Guinea blanked an in-form Equatorial Guinea team to reach this stage. Read all about both teams below in our preview of the late match on Friday:

DR Congo vs Guinea- 20:00 GMT

DR Congo

Nantes midfielder Samuel Moutoussamy is an important link between the midfield and the Congolese attack

Much of the attention on DR Congo was focused on their attack before the competition but the Leopards are in the quarterfinals because of their defensive resilience during the difficult moments. Even if all of the team’s matches in Ivory Coast ended in draws, right back Gédéon Kalulu acknowledged two “psychological victories” with a defeat of Egypt in the Round of 16 as well as a stingy defense that only conceded three goals in four matches. Head coach Sébastien Desabre attributed his team’s progression to “hard work”, also acknowledging that the Leopards have yet to reach their full potential in Ivory Coast.

The strong defense is led by captain Chancel Mbemba who is flanked by strong and experienced presences at the fullback positions, Kalulu on the right and Arthur Masuaku on the left flank. After Mbemba’s central partner Dylan Batubinska conceded a penalty kick against Egypt it appears likely that Simba SC player Henoc Inonga Baka will return to the eleven after suffering an injury in the group stage. Defensive midfielder Charles Pickel is a favorite of Desabre for good reason considering the tenacity and organization he is adding in front of the defensive line.

Samuel Moutoussamy contributes his share of defensive duties partnered with Pickel but the Nantes player also adds to the attack as a reliable passer. Théo Bongonda, normally a winger, operated as a central playmaker against Egypt in place of injured Gaël Kakuta but Kakuta is training again and could return to the eleven or be an impact substitute. Yoane Wissa is the star of the attacking group on the left wing and right winger Meschack Elia has contributed to three of DR Congo’s four goals despite only making his first start against Egypt. Striker and veteran leader Cédric Bakambu is having a disappointing competition but no other striker has established himself in the Leopards team, leaving the 32-year-old as the favorite to play from the beginning with Fiston Mayele and Simon Banza ready to contribute as substitutes.

Guinea

Valencia central defender Mouctar Diakhaby is one of coach Kaba Diawara’s prized dual national recruits and continues to be a valuable leader in the defense

Guinea continue to be rather unconvincing despite the talent that is within the Syli National squad. However, credit must be given to the players and coach Kaba Diawara for qualifying for the knockout stage out of the “Group of Death” and finding a way past Equatorial Guinea in the Round of 16. Diawara showed concern at the lack of attacking prowess from his team following the victory over Equatorial Guinea, challenging his team to be more efficient with their opportunities if they want to progress deeper in the competition.

The veteran defense is an excellent foundation for success. Mouctar Diakhaby and Julian Jeanvier are French-born central defenders who are excelling in front of another veteran, 34-year-old goalkeeper Ibrahim Koné. Issiaga Sylla is the captain of the team on the left side of the defense and the right side features a promising talent, 20-year-old Ibrahim Diakité who assisted Mohamed Bayo for the only goal of the match against Equatorial Guinea in the final seconds.

Injuries are a bit of a concern in the midfield with Ilaix Moriba appearing to be doubtful for Friday’s match. Abdoulaye Touré is questionable after missing the previous match but is a favorite of Kaba Diawara who could return to the eleven to partner Amadou Diawara in the center. Morgan Guilavogui continues to be underwhelming on the right wing and could make way for Aguibou Camara, opening up the possibility that Serhou Guirassy could partner with Mohamed Bayo up top in a 4-4-2 formation. Sekou Sylla is a two-way player on the left wing but François Kamano could make his return at that position after time spent on the bench following a red card in the opening match of the competition against Cameroon.

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