Two-time African Nations Championship (CHAN) winners DR Congo are determined to become the most successful nation in the competition by winning a third title when the Leopards take part in the 2022 edition in Algeria. Experienced coach Otis Ngoma named a strong squad for the competition and stated that “the DRC is going to Algeria with the aim of bringing back a third star” in Monday’s press conference. Ngoma called up many players from top clubs in the DRC’s top division Linafoot including 2022-23 season leaders AS Vita Club and defending champions TP Mazembe as well as FC Saint-Éloi Lupopo for the competition. The Leopards are in a fiercely competitive Group B and will battle for a top-2 spot against Uganda, Senegal and Ivory Coast with their opening match against Uganda on January 14.
Ngoma expressed confidence in his team while acknowledging the off-the-pitch difficulties that he and his players have experienced due to financial issues, limiting the team’s ability to prepare: “…it’s been seven months, we have no salary. We don’t strike. And there, every day with an intrinsic motivation, our hearts, we said to ourselves that the state will one day be grateful.” Assistant coach Guy Bukasa also stressed the importance of sacrifice by stating the team is going to behave like soldiers going to the front to defend their country.
The most familiar face in the team is veteran TP Mazembe full back Issama Mpeko but his younger club teammates will embrace an opportunity to make their names more known. Midfielder Zemanga Sozé will create opportunities from the center of the pitch while fellow Mazembe players Adam Bossu and Phillippe Kinzumbi have plenty of pace and goal scoring ability in the attack. Another member of the Ravens, defender Ernest Luzolo, is another likely player in Ngoma’s starting eleven who is an excellent option at either left back or in the center of defense.
Initially scheduled to play two friendlies against fellow CHAN participants Mali, the Leopards will instead play only one preparation match against Libya during their final preparations in Tunisia according to FootRDC. The DR Congo squad left for Algeria’s neighbors on Monday, with one group traveling through Paris before flying to the Tunisian capital of Tunis while another group flew directly to the city.
The full list of players is below with more information on the team in the links further below.