DR Congo facing must-win game

Youssouf Mulumbu (File)
Youssouf Mulumbu (File)

Ebebiyin, Equatorial Guinea - West Bromwich Albion midfielder Youssouf Mulumbu knows DR Congo's next Africa Cup of Nations game against Cape Verde on Thursday is already a must-win for the Leopards after they drew with Zambia on Sunday.

DR Congo had to come from behind to draw 1-1 with the 2012 African champions in Ebebiyin, with Crystal Palace winger Yannick Bolasie rescuing a point by cancelling out Given Singuluma's early opener in the Group B game.

That was despite a good performance from the Leopards, and captain Mulumbu said a first Nations Cup win in nine years is now essential when they face surprise 2013 quarter-finalists Cape Verde.

"We need to win and that's what I told my team," said Mulumbu, who will celebrate his 28th birthday on Sunday, as DR Congo try to qualify for the last eight for the first time since the 2006 finals in Egypt.

After that, the Leopards did not return to the finals until 2013, when they were eliminated despite drawing all three group games in South Africa.

"We all still remember that in 2013 we did not go past the group stage and so we don't want to have to wait until our final group game against a very strong Tunisian team to determine our fate."

Much-fancied Tunisia and Cape Verde drew 1-1 in the other Group B game to be played on Sunday evening to leave the group finely poised, and Mulumbu admitted he was encouraged by the way DR Congo performed against Zambia, particularly in the second half.

"We showed some good things in the second half and deserved to have won the match because we were better than Zambia," he said.

"But we made so many mistakes offensively and so we couldn't score more than the goal we got."

Mulumbu added that, with the many problems in the country, their long-suffering fans deserve more and he hopes the large contingent that travelled to Equatorial Guinea to cheer them will have something to celebrate on Thursday.

"The fans are always behind us and with the so many problems in our country, we need to make it up to them," said Mulumbu, who moved to West Brom in 2009 after starting his career with French giants Paris Saint-Germain.

"And I hope they will be also behind us against Cape Verde."

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