Tempers flare as DRC edge Mauritania

2014-01-15 13:36

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In spite of starting their campaign to reclaim their African Nations Championship title with an unconvincing 1-0 victory over Mauritania, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) remain hopeful.

The Leopards’ opening game had all sorts of drama as they were awarded a dodgy penalty. Their coach Santos Muntubile was sent off for verbally abusing the match official and Mauritania also played the last 15 minutes of their game with 10 men after their captain Moussa Baghayoko was shown a red card for a dangerous two-footed tackle.

Tempers flared in the game, but the tournament’s inaugural winners got off to a winning start against the debutants, Les Mourabitones.

Mauritania are coached by Patrice Neveu, who was in charge of the Leopards in 2009 and 2010.

DRC assistant coach Papi Kimoto defended his players for their lethargic display and warned that they will step up their tempo in the coming games.

Kimoto said: “We are delighted with the three points as our main objective was to win. The players know what is expected of them and they will rise to the occasion. They have to.” Expectations back in Congo are also weighing heavily on the shoulders of the players.

But Kimoto added that they will take each match as it comes and remain focused on winning their second title in the third edition of the tournament.

With Gabon and Burundi playing to a goalless draw in the group’s other match, a win against the Black Panthers of Gabon on Saturday could seal their passage to the quarterfinals.

The Leopards top the group with three points. Kimoto said: “The players are determined to win. We are not here for a holiday. We mean business.”

Neveu congratulated his side for their brave showing, which included hitting the post and seeing an effort cleared off the line. But he felt that the penalty awarded against his side was a harsh decision by Algerian referee Mohamed Benouza.

“My captain was provoked by the player when he got the red card and the penalty was a soft decision. But I’m proud of my team. We could have rescued a point but we were unlucky.”

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