HomeFootball NewsAFCON: DR Congo vs Zambia: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and...

AFCON: DR Congo vs Zambia: Preview, expected line-ups, how to watch and prediction

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The State of Play

The Democratic Republic of Congo head into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations ranked 67th in the world by FIFA and boasting a lot of attacking depth with several players fighting for what could be an extremely proactive 4-4-2 system, under the stewardship of former Wydad Casablanca and Esperance de Tunis head coach, Sebastien Desabre. The Leopards have a squad that includes the likes of Gael Kakuta and Cedric Bakambu, which really does underline their offensive quality.

Ever since former Chelsea, Portsmouth and West Ham United manager Avram Grant was appointed manager of the Zambian national side in December 2022, they have been much-improved, playing 15 matches with nine victories, two draws and four losses. Zambia’s most recent outing was a 1-1 draw with Cameroon in their final warm-up match, last week, but they head into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations as somewhat of an unknown quantity. They’ll need to hit the ground running though in a difficult group.

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Team News

DR Congo will be without Watford’s Edo Kayembe, with the midfielder having been forced to withdraw from the squad due to injury. Omenuke Mfulu was named as his replacement, although he is likely to start this game on the bench.

Avram Grant will be banking on his pacy attacking players such as Patson Daka and Fashion Sakala to prove the difference not only in this match, but across the tournament. Captain Lubambo Musonda is also likely to be key for them.

Expected Line-ups

DR Congo: Mpasi; Kalulu, Mbemba, Bushiri, Masuaku; Kakuta, Tshibola, Moutoussamy, Diangana; Bongonda, Bakambu

Zambia: Nsabata; Chepeshi, Sunzu, Chanda, Kabwe; B. Sakala, Kampamba; Banda, L. Musonda, F. Sakala; Daka

What they Said

DR Congo attacker Cedric Bakambu on his side’s group stage opposition: “We don’t look too much at the other opponents. We focus on us. We know that we had a difficult journey in the qualifiers and that should serve as a lesson for us to perform in this competition and I have confidence in my teammates.”

Zambia boss Avram Grant on his team’s ambitions going into the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations: “I don’t like setting goals before a competition. The most important thing is how you approach your matches. We need to improve. I know it’s a difficult group with Morocco and DR Congo and there are teams better than us but football is not played on paper. When we go on the pitch, it will be to win.”

When and How to Watch

The game at the Laurent Pokou Stadium will kick off at 20:00 on Wednesday January 17th and will be shown live on Sky Sports in the UK. Subscribers to Sky Sports can alternately stream the game online via the ‘Sky Go’ app.

Prediction

Zambia may find themselves in a very tough group, but the quality of the offensive players at Avram Grant’s disposal makes the ‘Chipolopolo’ a dangerous opponent for any team, not least DR Congo. With Morocco in the same group, this serves as a hugely important encounter for both sides and it would be no surprise if it proved a cagey affair that saw neither DR Congo, nor Zambia able to come out victorious, with 1-1 the final outcome.

Jon Fisher
Jon Fisher
Jon has over 20 years' experience in sports journalism having worked at the Press Association, Goal and Stats Perform, covering three World Cups, an Olympics and numerous other major sporting events.

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