Zambia v DR Congo | Sunday 18 January | Ebebiyín | 18:00
Zambia will be looking to repeat their success of the 2012 AFCON but their mission won’t be easy against the Democratic Republic of Congo, who have shown lots of progress since winning the 2009 Orange African Championship of Nations (CHAN).
To Win (90mins)
DR Congo 18/10
Zambia finished second in their qualifying group, where they accumulated eleven points in the six matches played. The irony of it all is that they recorded fewer defeats than Cape Verde, who finished at the top of that group. After drawing at home to Mozambique, losing to the eventual group winners and drawing in Niger, Zambia went on to win their final three matches to secure qualification. They then earned a commendable 1-1 draw in a friendly against Ivory Coast before losing 1-0 to Shakes Mashaba’s unconquerable Bafana side in their final warm-up match at the beginning of the month. Zambia have qualified for their fourth consecutive Africa Cup of Nations. The core of this team remains the same, but with some elder elements stagnating, Honour Janza must look to fresher prospects if they are to prosper, especially in attack.
Like many of the football nations in this group, the DRC have a fascinating tale to tell ahead of this year's tournament. The Leopards were the best third-placed finishers during the Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign last year. At first glance, it would appear they produced a rather ordinary qualifying campaign. However, it needs to be noted that the Central African nation was forced to compete against a resurgent Cameroon and the mighty Ivory Coast during Group D qualifying. To have walked away with three wins in that group was highly commendable and their efforts have subsequently been rewarded. They managed to win both legs against Sierra Leone, winning 2-0 away and 3-1 at home and stunned everyone with their 4-3 victory over Ivory Coast in Abidjan. Their success is owed to tricky wing play where Jeremy Bokila and Yannick Bolasie provide a direct threat to goal.
VERDICT: Draw 19/10
DR Congo will be full of confidence ahead of the match and rightly so. When one survives a group which contains two African heavyweights such as Cameroon and Ivory Coast, one ought to be. However, the Leopards have failed to beat Zambia in seven meetings with Chipolopolo winning three times. They’ve played out to four draws and given the form between these teams, the draw looks a solid bet.