A rebuilding Democratic Republic of Congo national team looked more organized on defense under new manager Hector Cuper but an impotent attack condemned them to a 1-0 shutout defeat against the Carthage Eagles of Tunisia on Saturday. Naïm Sliti’s 12th international goal just before halftime was enough for the Tunisians to emerge victorious as the better side on the day.
Tunisia quickly established themselves as the better side in the early proceedings by coming close on a couple of opportunities within the opening 15 minutes. However, Marcel Tisserand and his new center back defensive partner, Chris Mavinga of Major League Soccer side Toronto FC, did well to maintain a stiff resistance from the Leopards.
DR Congo nearly took the lead with their best opportunity of the match just after 23 minutes. Star forward Cedric Bakambu used a skillful combination play to find space on the left wing and sent in a cross that bounced through the Tunisian penalty area to Samuel Moutoussamy, who first-timed a shot with his left foot off the crossbar. Soon after a penalty appeal for the Congolese was denied when Bakambu surged into the penalty area and was taken down.
However, Tunisia found their goal in the 45th minute through a brilliant individual play from Sliti. Receiving the ball on the right flank as Tunisia sprinted forward on the break, Sliti cut inside and left baffled Congolese midfielder Mukoko Tonombe with a brilliant stepover, then sent a quick bouncing effort past keeper Baggio Siadi. The moment of inspiration from the Al-Ettifaq FC midfielder was all Tunisia needed as the Congolese competed well but struggled to replicate the danger they showed earlier in the first half.
Highlights are below.