DR Congo secured their place as Group C winners after defeating Togo 3-1 in Port-Gentil on Tuesday. A first half goal from the tournament’s top scorer Junior Kabanaga, and two further second half goals from Firmin Mubele Ndombe and substitute Paul Mpoku ensured Florent Ibenge’s side victory, with substitute Kodjo Fo-Doh scoring for Togo in between.
The Leopards topped the group with seven points, one richer than second place Morocco who ousted defending champions Cote d’Ivoire after defeating The Elephants by a lone goal in a simultaneous kickoff in Oyem.
DR Congo who finished the last edition in the third place will now return to Oyem waiting Group D runner up, while Morocco has to face Group D winners next Sunday.
The first half was a story of rare chances. Both sides tried to control the possession but without posing any real threat on the goalkeepers.
But the substitute’s first experience was one to forget, as he was on the receiving side of the game’s first goal. A long pass from Chancel Mbemba found Junior Kabananga who rounded his marker to drive the ball past Mensah, scoring his third goal of the tournament, and giving DR Congo the lead.
Kabananga could have doubled his tally just before the break, but his header from Lumalisa Mutambala’s corner hit the post, as the first half ended with the Congolese leading 1-0.
The second half was a completely different story. Both sides raised their tempo in search for more goals. And it was DR Congo who doubled their lead eight minutes after the break. A mistimed clearance from Togo’s defense saw the ball going to Marcel Tisserand, whose long ball found Firmin Mubele Ndombe in one on one situation with Mensah, and Ndombe chipped the ball into the net scoring the Leopards second goal of the night.
Jonathan Bolingi thought he extended DR Congo’s lead two minutes later, but his effort was ruled offside. And it was Togo who struck next.
Floyd Ayite received captain Emmanuel Adebayor inside the vital area to lay the ball in front of substitute Kodjo Fo-Doh who reduced the deficit after 69 minutes.
Togo could have equalized sixty seconds later, but Adebayor’s shot was stopped in time by goalkeeper Ley Matampi.
The game was swinging between both trams, with Bolingi missing the target twice. And ten minutes from time DR Congo put the game behind any doubts, when substitute Paul Mpoku fired a freekick from the edge of the penalty area, and the ball was ruled to cross the goal line with Menash completely beaten.