In the second Group F match of the Africa Cup of Nations, the teams of DR Congo and Zambia will compete.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo has a strong roster, but has shown inconsistency recently. There are top league players in every line, especially in the defence, with standouts from the French league. The leopards have capable performers on the defensive flanks: Jédéon Kalulu's brother from Lorient plays on the right, while Arthur Masuaku, formerly of the EPL, is on the left. However, key centre-back Chancel Mbemba lacks a decent partner; the other defenders come from French League 2 or from Scottish Premier League teams.
Former Chelsea player Gaël Kakuta is in a key midfield role and always plays as an attacking midfielder. Yoane Wissa of Brentford is a regular outfield presence. Theo Bongonda and Silas Katompa Mvumpa of Stuttgart are competing for a spot on the other flank. The team's main star in attack is experienced Cedric Bakambu, a former Villarreal player.
Regarding DR Congo's recent performance, they suffered a defeat to Burkina Faso with a score of 1:2 on January 10, 2024. In a friendly match on January 6, 2024, they drew 0:0 with Angola. The team defeated Mauritania with a score of 2:0 on November 15, 2023, but suffered a loss against Sudan 1:0 in the World Cup qualifiers on November 19, 2023. These results indicate team's instability which may affect their performance in the upcoming Africa Cup of Nations.
Zambia, which made a triumphant return to continental football by winning the Africa Cup of Nations in 2012 under the leadership of Hervé Renard, qualified under the management of Avram Grant, one of the most notable coaches in the tournament, 12 years after their triumph. With the Israeli coach at the helm, the Zambians have demonstrated exciting attacking play, netting 18 goals in 10 matches.
In the latest matches, Zambia drew 1:1 with Cameroon on January 9, 2024. On November 21, 2023, the team suffered a loss against Niger with a score of 1:2, but earlier, they defeated Congo 4:2 in the World Cup qualifiers on October 17, 2023 and trounced Uganda 3:0 in a friendly match.
The Zambian roster includes many former Russian league players, especially from Arsenal Tula, with three players. Stoppila Sunzu from China's Jinan club is a key veteran of the team, having netted the decisive penalty in the Africa Cup of Nations final. We have Kings Kangwa and Lameck Banda of Red Star also in the team.
The star of the Zambian team is Leicester City's striker Patson Daka who is gearing up for a move into the Premier League from Championship. Not to forget the tantalising skills of the former Spartak legend, Fashion Sakala, now plying his trade in Saudi Arabia.
The teams last played against each other back in 2015, and they drew 1:1, while in 2009, the Congolese team had the upper hand with a score of 2:1.
DR Congo lost to Sudan in their last official match and looked weak in recent friendlies; the Zambians, with their strong attack under Avram Grant, may well grab some points. I'm favouring the visitors with a zero handicap.