AFCON 2024 – DR Congo: Squad, group, opponents & schedule

The DR Congo are making a return to the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON 2024) after missing out on the last edition in 2021.

Here’s all you need to know about the Leopards.

For clarity's sake, this year's competition is officially named AFCON 2023 since it was initially scheduled to take place last year but was postponed until January-February 2024.

AFCON 2024: DR Congo’s calendar

Sebastien Desabre and his side are paired in Group F, alongside Morocco, Zambia and Tanzania. The Leopards will open their AFCON campaign against Zambia before taking on Morocco and Tanzania.

  • 17 January 9 pm: DR Congo – Zambia, Stade Laurent Pokou
  • 21 January 3 pm: Morocco – DR Congo, Stade Laurent Pokou
  • 23 January, 9 pm: Tanzania – DR Congo, Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium

How did DRC qualify for AFCON 2024?

The DR Congo navigated their way past Group I of the AFCON 2024 qualifiers, topping a group that contained Mauritania, Sudan and Gabon.

The Leopards finished the qualifying campaign with 12 points, while Mauritania also secured qualification as runners-up of the group with 10 points. Sebastien Desabre’s side lost their first two matches but recovered superbly to win each of their next four games to book their place in the Ivory Coast.

  • Day 1: DR Congo-Gabon (0-1)
  • Day 2: Sudan-DR Congo (2-1)
  • Day 3: DR Congo-Mauritania (3-0)
  • Day 4: Mauritania-DR Congo (0-3)
  • Day 5: Gabon-DR Congo (0-2)
  • Day 6: DR Congo-Sudan (2-0)

DR Congo' team's last 10 matches before AFCON 2024

  • Sudan-DR Congo (1-0) – 2026 World Cup Qualifiers
  • DR Congo-Mauritania (2-0) – 2026 World Cup Qualifiers
  • Angola-DR Congo (0-0) – Friendly
  • New Zealand-DR Congo (1-1) – Friendly
  • South Africa-DR Congo (1-0) – Friendly
  • DR Congo-Sudan (2-0) – 2023 AFCON Qualifiers
  • Gabon-DR Congo (0-2) – 2023 AFCON Qualifiers
  • DR Congo-Uganda (1-0) – Friendly
  • Mauritania – DRC (0-3) – 2023 AFCON Qualifiers
  • DR Congo-Mauritania (3-0) – 2023 AFCON Qualifiers

DR Congo: Time for glory?

The DR Congo are one of the teams with a lot of history in the AFCON, having won the tournament two times in the past. However, the Leopards have not won any major piece of silverware since their last AFCON triumph in 1974.

AFCON 2024
Photo by Icon Sport

The country came very close in 2015 when they finished third in the AFCON, but it’s been downhill ever since, although they currently boast a very decent squad.

Desabre’s side are not among the favourites for the tournament but are certainly outsiders and can spring a surprise. Morocco are the undisputed heavyweights of Group F, and are primed to top the group but second place is firmly within the reach of the DR Congo when you compare their quality to Zambia and Tanzania.

Coach of the DR Congo team: Sebastien Desabre

Desabre was so desperate to join the DR Congo that he willingly terminated his contract with Ligue 2 side Chamois Niortais to take charge of the Leopards. Since his appointment, the Frenchman has managed 10 matches, leading the team to an impressive five wins.

He also led the Congolese national team to qualify for AFCON 2024, and previously stated that he was ready to deal with the pressure that came with the job.

“Of course, you have pressure when you are the Congo coach. There are a lot of expectations for results. We focus on having a good organization of the game, on having a game plan that allows us to be good on the pitch, to be able to win matches,” Desabre said.

“Afterwards, we do everything we have in our power and with our heart and with our investment, you have seen it. I am not alone because I have a staff around me, who are also quality. So, we try to put the players in the best position to achieve results.”

Player to watch: Fiston Mayele

AFCON 2024
Photo by Icon sport

The DR Congo will be counting on the brilliance of Fiston Mayele when they grace the Ivory Coast for AFCON 2023. The 29-year-old striker is the team’s best source of goals, having been a key figure in the qualifiers.

Mayele scored seven goals for Young Africans as they reached the final of the CAF Confederations Cup last season. Currently on the books of the Egyptian side Pyramids, the forward is coming into the tournament as the DR Congo’s player to watch.

Despite making his international debut at 28, Mayele has grabbed the opportunity with both hands with two goals in eight caps and he will play an important part in the Leopards’ AFCON campaign.

DR Congo’s final squad for AFCON 2024

Goalkeepers

  • Dimitri Bertaud (Montpellier)
  • Lionel Mpasi (Rodez)
  • Baggio Siadi (TP Mazembe)

Defenders

  • Dylan Batubinsika (Saint Etienne)
  • Brian Bayeye (Ascoli)
  • Rocky Bushiri (Hibernians)
  • Henock Inonga (Simba)
  • Gedeon Kalulu (Lorient)
  • Joris Kayembe (Racing Genk)
  • Arthur Masuaku (Besiktas)
  • Chancel Mbemba (Marseille)

Midfielders

  • Theo Bongonda (Spartak Moscow)
  • Grady Diangana (West Bromwich Albion)
  • Gael Kakuta (Amiens)
  • Edo Kayembe (Watford)
  • Samuel Moutousamy (Nantes)
  • Charles Pickel (Cremonese)
  • Aaron Tshibola (Al Hatta)

Forwards

  • Simon Banza (Sporting Braga)
  • Cedric Bakambu (Galatasaray)
  • Meschack Elia (Young Boys Berne)
  • Silas Katompa (VfB Stuttgart)
  • Fiston Mayele (Pyramids)
  • Yoane Wissa (Brentford)
Avatar photo
Emmanuel Ayamga

Emmanuel Ayamga is an African sports writer, with bylines on DW, Al Jazeera, World Soccer Magazine and These Football Times.