DR Congo and Zambia clash in their opening 2015 Africa Cup Group B fixture on Sunday in Ebebiyin.
The two North-South border neighbours have played each 25 times dating back to 1948 with DR Congo winning seven, drawing 10 and losing eight of their Central African derbies on record.
Strangely, the two sides have only met once at the Africa Cup and that was way back in the 1974 final in Egypt.
DR Congo, then Zaire, won the match 2-0 in an epic replay after the first game finished 2-2.
Furthermore, both sides are quite familiar with each other with notably four Zambian player’s playing or have played in DR Congo for TP Mazembe over the last six years.
Zambia captain Rainford Kalaba, striker Given Singuluma and midfielder Nathan Sinkala are all on Mazembe’s books while defender Stopilla Sunzu left the club in January, 2014 for Europe.
“Congo will be difficult because there are players that we know but they also know how difficult it is to beat Zambia,” Kalaba said.
“Winning this game is very important because it will take us to the quarterfinals.”
Meanwhile, DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge will be making his tournament debut after leading The Leopards to qualification via the lone third best ticket in the qualifiers.
Ibenge is hoping the same latent magic he produced when he quietly guided his club AS Vita to a 2014 CAF Champions League runners-up finish will rub off on the Leopards.
“We are approaching the Afcon with a single objective: To focus on our match against Zambia,” Ibenge said.
“We will focus on our next match against Cape Verde thereafter.”
The two-time champions also come to the tournament with one of their strongest teams to date that include English Premiership stars Yannick Bolasie of Crystal Palace and Youssuf Mulumbu from West Brom.
Ibenge knows very well that with a rich squad at his disposal, the pressure is on him to end a spate of poor Africa Cups and qualify to last eight for the first time since 2006.
DR Congo vs Zambia
Zambia vs DR Congo
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