Needing a win to secure their spot in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations, DR Congo claimed a 2-0 victory over Sudan in their final Group I match at the Stade de Martyrs Stadium on Saturday night.
Goals in either half by Theo Bongonda and Fiston Mayele saw DR Congo overtake Mauritania in Group I as the Leopards secured Afcon qualification.
DR Congo established themselves in the tie by holding most of the ball during the early exchanges of the encounter.
After five minutes played, Sudan found themselves defending their quarters as DR Congo applied pressure early on.
In what was a dream start for the Leopards, Theo Bongonda settled nerves all around the Stade de Martyrs by getting his name on the scoresheet in the eighth minute.
With Charles Pickel finding Bongonda with a well-weighted through ball toward the Sudan goal, the attacker managed to find the back of the net with a left-footed shot from a difficult angle.
DR Congo remained dominant on the ball during the first 15 minutes of the game, while Sudan played most of their football inside their own half.
Reduced to playing on the counter attack, Sudan went forward in sporadic moments as a result of DR Congo’s possession heavy approach.
MAYELE DOUBLES CONGO'S ADVANTAGE
Nonetheless, the Leopards actively searched for a second goal throughout the first half but were met with doggish defending by the Sudan backline.
With the referee calling time on the first 45, Bongonda’s early strike proved to be the difference maker at the break.
DR Congo assumed possession of the ball immediately after the restart and created a couple of goalscoring opportunities in the process.
Meschack Elia came close to doubling the Leopards' lead moments before the hour mark, with his right-footed shot from outside the box saved by Mohamed Mustafa in goal.
As the 70th minute approached, Sudan found it difficult to make it out of their own half as the home side grew in confidence as the game progressed.
DR Congo then doubled their advantage in the 87th minute as Fiston Mayele added his name on the scoresheet.
Assisted by Meschack Elia, Mayele took advantage of poor defending inside the Sudan box before rifling the ball into the back of the net.
Nevertheless, the result saw Sudan miss out on Afcon qualification while DR Congo moved to the top of Group I on matchday six.
DR Congo: 2 (Bongonda 8’, Mayele 87’ )
DR CONGO: Mpasi, Kalulu, Mbemba, Batubinsika, Masuaku, Pickel (Kayembe 58’), Moutoussamy, Bongonda (Mfulu 90’), Kakuta (Wissa 82’), Elia (Mvumpa 89’), Bakambu (Mayele 82’)
SUDAN: Mustafa, Khames, Alsini, Saeed Ahmed, Adel (Gadin 85’), Karshoum, Abdalla (Al Rashed 60’), Mahmoud, Agab, Muzammil (Isha 86’), Nouh