Don't miss

Replay


LATEST SHOWS

MEDIAWATCH

To smack or not to smack?

Read more

DEBATE

Soft on Smacking? France slammed for not banning corporal punishment (part 2)

Read more

FOCUS

French Muslims refuse to be scapegoats for extremists

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

'Obama needs to provide real answers to Netanyahu's arguments'

Read more

IN THE PAPERS

Hollande: 'We have to tear voters away from the National Front'

Read more

FACE-OFF

French local elections: Far-right National Front in pole position

Read more

ENCORE!

Film Show: 'Citizen Four', 'The Circle' and 'Wolf Totem'

Read more

EYE ON AFRICA

Tangerine Dream: Afropolitan star Yemi Alade chats to FRANCE 24

Read more

MIDDLE EAST MATTERS

Iraq: Islamic State group's child soldiers

Read more

DR Congo's Leopards claim unexpected ChAN win

Text by Thomas HUBERT , in Kinshasa, DR Congo

Latest update : 2009-03-09

DR Congo's Leopards beat favourites Ghanaian Black Stars to win the first African Nations Championship in the Ivory Coast. In the Congolese capital of Kinshasa, hope was reborn among supporters after a series of defeats.


The sound of millions of voices and horns suddenly rose in the hot and humid Kinshasa night: against all odds, the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) had just won the first African Nations Championship, a competition involving national teams exclusively made up of footballers who play in Africa.

 

Even the Leopards' most fanatic supporters did not believe in the DRC's victory after its recent failure to qualify for the next Africa Nations Cup and the 2010 World Cup. Banners shouting, “Everybody behind the Leopards” and “Long live the Leopards” in capital letters only appeared in the capital during the last few days.

 

Sunday afternoon, the Congolese had nothing to lose as they faced the Ghanaian team, who had defeated them 3-0 in the group phase.

 

Then came the surprise. In an outburst of football acrobatics, agile Leopards expressed their dexterity and sheer enjoyment of the game during the finals at the Houphoët-Boigny Stadium in the Ivorian capital of Abidjan.

 

A long centre pass from Dioko Kaluyituka finally landed on Bongeli Lofo's head, then into the Ghanaian net. In Kinshasa, fans jumped to the nearest piece of metal to make the sound of hope heard across the city. At 74 minutes, Lofo – again – passed to Bedi Mbenza, who turned the score into a final 2-0.

 

The Leopards could not contain their joy any more. Goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba embarked on a sitting-down dance, his heels and backside rhythmically rebounding on the grass, while one of his teammates allowed himself a few keepie-uppies between passes. The commentator on DR Congo's national television had to move away from the microphone for a few minutes for fear of getting too "emotional".

 

In Macampagne, a leafy area of Kinshasa, guards at the gates of sprawling villas followed the match glued to their radios. “I am completely enchanted,” said Didier Kisila. “We were humiliated, we had lost hope. But now peace is back in DRC, the cup is ours, the reconstruction programme is underway... What a day!”

Date created : 2009-03-08

COMMENT(S)