Trailing by the score but more enterprising than its opponent, the Democratic Republic of Congo snatched its qualification for the semi-finals of the African Cup of Nations (CAN), Friday in Abidjan, by overcoming Guinea (3- 1).
The Guineans opened the scoring in the 21st minute on a penalty but the Leopards equalized six minutes later before making the difference in the second half with two additional goals. The Leopards had not entered the last four since 2015, the year when they were beaten by the future winners, Côte d'Ivoire (3-1), whom they could find on their way in the next round, if the country organizer beats Mali on Saturday.
Despite a rather messy match between two teams who do not necessarily like to play the game and take a lot of risks, the result conforms to a certain logic. Still deprived of its will-o'-the-wisp Gaël Kakuta, Guinea was far too passive after opening the scoring and incapable of reacting when it found itself trailing.
We thought for a moment that the match was perhaps going to get carried away with two goals in seven minutes in the heart of the first act, in which the Congolese captain, Chancel Mbemba, played a big role. He first caused a penalty by pushing Mohamed Bayo in the back when he was about to take a cross in front of goal, and the Le Havre striker took justice into his own hands (0-1, 21st) .
But six minutes later, the Marseille defender inherited a ball from a corner at the far post and, with his bad foot, the left, he equalized from a tight angle (1-1, 27th). The match then fell into a certain torpor but the coaching of Sébastien Desabre, with the entry into play of Silas in the 59th, turned it around, the Stuttgart striker obtaining a penalty three minutes later, converted by Yoane Wissa (2-1, 65th).
Despite the entry into play in the 69th minute of Serhou Guirassi, replacing at kick-off due to thigh pain, Congo remained in control of the game. It was even Arthur Masuaku, with a superb kick- off-center free shot directly, which hit the nail on the head (3-1, 82nd) and extended the Leopards' dream.
In the first quarter-final, played a little earlier, Nigeria got the better of Angola (1-0) and will face either Cape Verde or South Africa in the semi-final.