DRC’s Leopards aim for Ivory Coast’s Elephants

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The Democratic Republic of Congo players have their feet on the ground and are focused ahead of tonight’s African Nations Cup semifinal against Ivory Coast. The DRC came back from two goals down on Saturday to beat Congo 4-2, but the players know they’ll have it all to do against the Elephants in Bata.

The Elephants of Ivory Coast are looking to avenge the defeat they suffered at the hands of The Leopards of Democratic Republic of Congo in Abidjan. The Congolese last played the Ivorians in the qualifiers in October when they produced a thrilling performance to force a surprise 4-3 away win.

DRC players have also been told to forget the euphoria of their comeback quarterfinal win as they prepare for their African Nations Cup semifinal against Ivory Coast.

The team’s captain, Neeskens Kebano, says they would be treating the semifinal seriously.

“I don’t think we need to make any particular preparations. We should just look at it in terms of a semifinal match. It’s true that we have fought hard during the qualifiers in Abidjan, but here, it’s a completely different deal. We are at the Afcon. We know that the matches are really very dynamic, so we need to make the necessary effort.”

Kebano has emphasised the importance of maintaining the focus throughout the match.

“We need to play with a lot of strong will, with a lot of enthusiasm, without letting anything slip past, which would ensure we would be rewarded at the end of the day.”

“It will be down to the team who will be best prepared and most determined.”

Ivory Coast beat Algeria 3-1 in the quarterfinals, inspired by big names Wilfried Bony, Gervinho and Yaya Toure.

The Ivorians showed that their well-documented defensive problems may be behind them.

DR Congo Coach, Florent Ibenge, believes that The Elephants have significantly improved since they met in Abidjan.

“The team has changed a little, but the big names are still there. The attack is still there, and as we often see it, it’s the attack that makes the difference with these great talents that have Gervinho, Bony or Yaya Toure. And at the back they have brought back Kolo Toure. They couldn’t have a better defence line and this team has conceded fewer goals since he came back.”

Ibenge says the current Ivorian side is a lot more efficient than the previous side.

“It’s a less flamboyant team, but more efficient. So maybe that’s what was missing in the previous generation to win. It’s maybe that efficiency that Herve Renard is bringing back now, and which is more dangerous.”

Ivory Coast have not kept a clean sheet in the tournament, but their victory over fancied Algeria will give them confidence for Wednesday’s semifinal in Bata.

Ivory Coast Coach, Herve Renard, says he would only be content if his team left Equatorial Guinea with the trophy.

Renard says he expects a very close semifinal against a physical and organised DR Congo.

“It will be a very tight match. I think the free kicks will be very, very important. We saw it in the match against Congo vs DR Congo. They got their first goal on a free kick, which was very well executed by Dore, who scored a very nice goal. But having seen their athletic potential, we should concentrate on this phase of the game, and then we will have the freshness, physical aptitudes. It will be down to the team who will be best prepared and most determined.” Equatorial Guinea arrived in Malabo on Tuesday afternoon from Bata – a confirmation that the semifinal fixtures won’t be moved around. The first semifinal between Democratic Republic of Congo and Cote D’Ivoire takes place at Estadio de Bata.

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