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banner Wednesday, 2 February, 2000, 13:05 GMT
Simbas exit with a whimper

A Gabonese supporter tries to work some magic


DR Congo 0-0 Gabon

The Democratic Republic of Congo saw their African Nations Cup hopes slip away in a disappointing goalless draw in Accra.

The Simbas needed to beat Gabon, who had already been eliminated, by a convincing margin in the final Group B game to have a chance of reaching the quarter-finals.

But they struggled to cause many problems in a largely uneventful match and the best chances fell to the minnows of Gabon.

And when skipper Kabwe Kasongo was sent off mid-way through the second half, DR Congo's fate was effectively sealed.

Underdogs impress

Gabon, who went into the match having conceded three goals in both of their opening games, were expected to be bit-part players - but in fact they were much more lively up front than their highly-rated opponents.

Jonas Ogandaga should have scored in the 35th minute when he was found unmarked by a searching cross from the right from Theodore Nzue Nguema, but his header bounced over the bar.

Two minutes later Gabon's Bruno Mbanangoye almost opening the scoring in stunning style - but his rocketed drive, which was heading for the top corner, was deflected clear by Congolese defender Kitulele Yuvuladio.

DR Congo offered little in the way of an attacking threat in the first half, but Missilou Mangituka did blast over the bar after 18 minutes while Ngidi Yemweni fluffed a clearcut opening towards the end of the half.

Red card

The Simbas looked a more determined outfit after the break - but still Gabon threatened on the break and the impressive Nguema brought a sharp save from Mkueni Mayala with a low first-time shot.

DR Congo were reduced to 10 men after 63 minutes when Kasongo was dismissed for a professional foul.

Chiva Nzighou looked like putting Gabon ahead as he sprinted clear of the defence - but just before he reached the area he was pulled back and the referee was left with no option but to send Kasongo off.

With an extra man, Gabon began to press home their advantage.

The livewire Nguema twice should have scored in the space of a minute - but first he was denied by a superb sliding tackle from Esele Bakasu and then he headed over the bar from close range.

Apataki Kifu came closest to scoring for the Simbas after 72 minutes, when he beat his marker with some neat footwork before unleashing a rising drive that hit the outside of the post.

In a match of wasted opportunities, the most glaring miss of all came 10 minutes from time.

Gabon substitute Daniel Cousin was sent clear through the middle, but he made life too difficult for himself by trying to stroll the ball into the net and keeper Mayala was able to clear the danger.

And the Congolese keeper was equally alert six minutes later when he showed off his skills as a sweeper, as he romped out of his area and stole the ball off Cousin with a sliding tackle.

Teams:

Gabon: Germain Mendome; Dieudonne Mouyouma, Chantry Muie Nguema, Rene Nsi-Akue, Cedric Moubamba; Tristan Mombo, Jonas Ogandaga, Bruno Mbanangoye, Dieudonne Londo; Theodore Nzue Nguema, Chiva Nzighou

Democratic Republic of Congo: Mkueni Mayala; Kabwe Kasongo, Kitulele Yuvuladio, Esele Bakasu, Michel Dinzey; Ndjanka Mukando, Missilou Mangituka, Epotele Bazamba, Apataki Kifu; Ngidi Yemweni, Banza Kasongo

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Links to other Cup News stories are at the foot of the page.