Two more teams from Group B, two more teams searching for their first win. With draws aplenty throughout the tournament we could see things coming right down to the wire in regards to qualification for the final 8. This game, again played in the Nuevo Estadio de Ebebiyin could prove a massive step forward towards qualification for any time claiming the three points.
But neither side looked like gaining any kind of advantage in the first half, a nervous exchange between two teams it seemed intent on not losing rather than chasing the victory. The majority of attacks were from hoisted free kicks into the penalty areas, play being broken up time after time by niggling fouls by both sides. The Cape Verde Blue Sharks were more than holding their own though, looking like a side that belonged in the tournament, a fact that belies the country’s tiny stats, with little more than a half million population. With close to 68 million Congolese to pick from in the Democratic Republic the game was still surprisingly a very even affair. Clear cut chances remained rare though, both teams seemingly happy to go in at half time goalless.
The second half continued where the first left off, anxious sighs from the crowd encouraging both teams to attack, DR Congo’s Yannick Bolasie testing Cape Verde keeper Vozinha with a long range effort shortly after kick-off. Bolaise himself, usually an influential part of the side was quiet on a night where he may have been expected to step up, show his quality and create magic as we have seen him do in the Premier League so well this season. But it was to be a quiet evening for the Crystal Palace man, ending with him being substituted after 63 minutes. DR Congo’s other Premier League star, Youssouf Mulumbu had faired even worse in the first half, leaving the field with what is believed to be a hamstring injury. The star of the game though would turn out to be a Congolese-based player though, TP Mazembe’s Robert Kidiaba, the oldest player at the tournament and 38 year old DR Congo keeper was outstanding in the second half. Pulling off a remarkable double save from Fernando Varele and Gege when it seemed certain either would score, both chances from within the six yard box. More was to come from Kidiaba when with only minutes left on the clock substitute Heldon was put through on goal, brilliantly turning inside his marker, only for Kidiada to again rescue the day, coming off his line to block Heldon’s effort.
Cape Verde will feel they had the better of the game and will rue late missed chances but two pints from two games puts them in a relatively good place going into the last group game with Zambia. DR Congo face the much more daunting task of a Tunisian side sitting pretty at the top of the group, injured captain Mulumbu remarking after the game that his side now needs to play with more confidence and to create more chances for their forwards. It promises to be a highly exciting last day of group play in Group B plenty to play for, for all teams.