Sebastien Desabre, DR Congo national team coach, revealed his intention to capitalize on Egypt’s defensive vulnerabilities when the two teams meet in the knockout stage of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) on Sunday.
Speaking at the pre-game press conference, Desabre said, “We are prepared for the Egypt game, as they possess a potent frontline.”
He emphasized the high stakes of the knockout match, stating: “The group stage is behind us, and this is a do-or-die encounter.”
Desabre expressed confidence in his team’s ability to perform at both individual and collective levels, asserting: “My players are well aware of their responsibilities, and we are fully prepared for the game.”
Egypt suffered significant setbacks during the group stage, with key star and captain Mohamed Salah sustaining an injury, and first-choice goalkeeper Mohamed El-Shennawi also being sidelined in separate matches against Ghana and Cape Verde.
While expressing disappointment at Salah’s absence, Desabre acknowledged Egypt’s depth, saying: “We had hoped Salah would play, as he is a legend and an iconic figure, but Egypt’s squad has other capable options who have responded well in his absence.”
Seven-time African champions Egypt secured their place in the knockout stage by finishing second in Group B, earning three points from three consecutive draws.
Desabre noted Egypt’s defensive struggles, remarking, “Egypt has conceded six goals and employed three different playing styles. We intend to exploit their defensive weaknesses.”
DR Congo claimed the second position in Group F with three points, following a goalless draw against Tanzania in their final group match.
The Leopards, who won the AFCON twice in 1968 and 1974, also drew 1-1 in their first two encounters against Morocco and Zambia.
The winner of the Egypt-DR Congo match will face the victor between Equatorial Guinea and Guinea in the quarter-finals.