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banner Thursday, 17 May, 2001, 17:30 GMT 18:30 UK
Russian takes over DR Congo
shabani nonda
Monaco's Nonda featured in defeats by Group D front-runners Tunisia and Ivory Coast
Russian coach Yuri Gavrilov has been appointed to take charge of the Democratic Republic of Congo and will guide them through their remaining World Cup qualifiers.

Congolese officials said the former Soviet Union international, who played for both Dinamo and Spartak Moscow, was scheduled to arrive in Kinshasa late on Thursday.

Gavrilov will take over the Congolese team's World Cup qualifying campaign, where they only have a faint chance of making the finals in Japan and South Korea next year.

  Group D Table
1 Tunisia P5 GD 13-3 Pts 13
2 Ivory Coast P4 GD 9-4 Pts 10
3 DR Congo P6 GD 5-12 Pts 7
4 Congo P5 GD 4-7 Pts 4
5 Madagascar P6 GD 4-9 Pts 3
Group D leaders Tunisia can make virtually sure of qualification if they beat second-placed Ivory Coast in Tunis on Sunday, and even a draw would eliminate the Congolese.

However, they will be relying more on Gavrilov to inspire their qualifying campaign in the African Nations Cup.

The Simbas play Lesotho in Maseru on June 3, desperately needing an away win to keep alive their chances before a final and probably crucial game at home to Zimbabwe.

Domestic-based squad

A 23-man squad has already been named to face Lesotho made up almost exclusively of domestic-based players.

Ten of the squad come from champions TP Mazembe Englebert who beat Raja Casablanca 2-0 last weekend in the second round first leg of the Champions League.

michael dinzey
Dinzey featured briefly in the World Cup campaign
Lofo Bongeli, who plays for V Club Mokanda in neighbouring Congo, is the only foreign-based player in the side.

DR Congo do have some experienced players in Europe such as Shabani Nonda of Monaco and Germany-based Michael Dinzey but their appearances in World Cup qualifying have not improved results and the cheaper option of relying on domestic talent has been revived.

Gavrilov succeeds Adelard Mayanga, who had not even travelled back for the last two games, when results had started to improve after a bad run of defeats.

Belgian-based Mayanga, one of the playing greats of the golden era of Zairean football in the early 1970s, lives and works in Charleroi.

Sensational loss

He had been appointed with much fanfare last December, charged with reviving the country's ailing qualifying campaigns in both the World Cup and African Nations Cup qualifiers.

  Group Six Table
1 Ghana P4 GD 11-6 Pts 7
2 Zimbabwe P4 GD 6-8 Pts 6
3 Lesotho P4 GD 6-6 Pts 5
4 DR Congo P4 GD 5-8 Pts 4

The team did start with a 2-1 win over Ghana in his first game but then lost sensationally in Tunisia, beaten 6-0 in the World Cup qualifiers and all but ending their hopes.

There followed a 2-1 loss to the Ivorians at home - a rare defeat at the Martyrs stadium in Kinshasa for the Congolese - and a 3-0 hiding by Ghana in their Nations Cup group.

Mayanga did not then attend the narrow 1-0 win over Madagascar, courtesy of a first-half penalty, nor the draw earlier this month against neighbours Congo in Pointe Noire.

Basilwa Lusadisu and locally-based coach Mukeba Mulemba took charge of a team made up exclusively of locally-based players for their last two matches.

The Congolese federation (Fecofa) is said to have sent a letter citing the poor results as the reason for Mayanga's dismissal.

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