Eddie Chikamhi Senior Sports Reporter
THE Democratic Republic of Congo’s Germany-based star Marcel Tisserand has warned the Warriors that they may need to move mountains if they are to claim maximum points in the two sides’ African Cup of Nations qualifier at the Complexe Omnisports des Stade Martyrs tomorrow.
The match kicks off at 7.30pm local time.
Tisserand, who plays for Wolfsburg in the German Bundesliga, is one of a host of Europe-based stars called by coach Florent Ibenge for the back-to-back clashes, in their quest to seize control of Group G.
The defender yesterday told the DRC football federation website that the Leopards were motivated to qualify for the final of the tournament to be held in Cameroon next year.
The 25-year-old sounded upbeat as he marked his return from a thigh injury that had sidelined him from action in Germany this season.
The French-born defender, who has over 10 caps for DRC, said he was happy to come back home and was pleased to see a motivated dressing room when they began camp this week.
“I come back after a short period of absence in the national team. I am very happy to come back and very happy to be able to play again with the Congo.
“It does me a lot of good. It’s one thing to play with your club and it’s another to do it for your country. I had missed playing with the Congo.
“Today, it’s done. I came back and I cannot wait to find all the friends to prepare this match against Zimbabwe which is very important.
“You will see highly motivated players who want to play together again, a very competitive team and especially who will want to show the people that it wants to go very far in this African Cup and it starts with this qualification,” he said.
Tisserand, who was born in France to a French father and a Congolese mother, represented DRC Under-19 in 2012 and was the captain of the Under-20 in the 2013 Toulon Tournament.
He was part of the DRC squad that reached the quarter-finals at last year’s Africa Cup of Nations in Gabon and he wants another bite of the cherry.
The Congolese side began their camp on Monday with 15 players. But by yesterday coach Ibenge had almost a full house, with the arrival of players such as Anthony Mossi Ngawi (Chiasso FC / Switzerland), Jordan Ikoko (Guingamp/ France), Arthur Masuaku (Westham/ England), Neeskens Kebano (Fulham/ England), Chancel Mbemba Mangulu (FC Porto/Portugal), Cedric Bakambu (Beijing Gouan/China), Yannick Yala Bolasie (Aston Villa/ England). Belgium-based defender Christian Luyindama said the DRC are looking to take control after the group was left open yesterday following Congo-Brazzaville’s 3-1 thrashing of Liberia.
Congo joined Zimbabwe and DRC on four points, but the Warriors retained top spot courtesy of a marginal goal difference.
Luyindama, who plays for Standard Liege in the Belgian Pro-League also promised to give the best of himself basing on his knowledge of Zimbabwean players Knowledge Musona and Marvelous Nakamba who also play in Belgium.
“We are very motivated to play this game which is not the least. We will beat Zimbabwe and take the lead. It’s really our wish.
“Personally, I know some players from the Zimbabwean selection. For example, Knowledge Musona with whom we play in the Belgian league. Me, for my part, I will give the best of myself. I’m sure everything will be fine, “he told the Congolese football federation website. The confidence is seemingly flowing among all Congolese players with Stuttgart winger Chadrac Akolo said they will be vigilant in the back to back meetings, with the return trip scheduled for next Tuesday night at the National Sports Stadium in Harare.
“We have no pressure. The first match is played at home. All we have to do is do the job right here in Kinshasa and we’ll go outside. We must stay focused.
“We must not sleep because we play at home first. Whether it is here or outside, it will be difficult. We will have to stay focused. The atmosphere is good for the moment. I was broken after not qualifying for the World Cup. I am very good physically and I hope to help the team as much as possible,” said Akolo.
Zimbabwe, on the other hand feel they are in good space after getting a warm welcome from their hosts upon arrival on Tuesday morning. Team manager Wellington Mpandare said they have been training on the artificial turf where the match will be played tomorrow evening.
“We had our first training session on Wednesday from 3pm-5pm and we had another one today same time at the match venue.
“It’s an artificial turf which is a bit harder than the one that we played on in Congo Brazzaville but the guys are psyched up. They can’t wait for the game.
“Morale in camp is very high and we are looking forward to the game. But tomorrow (today) we train at 6:30pm DRC time, which 7:30pm Zimbabwean time so everything is under control and we are looking forward to the game,” said Mpandare.
The Warriors team manager also said the Zimbabwe team welcomed yesterday’s result between hosts Congo and Liberia in Brazzaville.
“It’s good for us because we didn’t want a situation where Liberia win in Congo and win again in Liberia when they play the return leg at the weekend. So we are still top and it’s good for us,” said Mpandare.
ZIFA Technical Director Wilson Mtekede said the Warriors had to leave early and camp in DRC to manage recovery and performance.
“The fixtures are too close to each other. What we wanted to maximise on was the recovery period between the two fixtures because this situation is compounded by the issue of flights.
“So we had to consider our players because if they are to perform to the optimum levels they need to have proper recovery. They will leave DRC immediately after the game on Saturday and arrive on Sunday morning so that they have a decent recovery period, which is about 48 hours.
“Unlike in Europe where teams have one or two-hour flights, we usually don’t have direct flights in the region and that will then mean that the team will have to spend hours and hours in travelling. “That is why we had to travel early. Modern day trends of the game emphasise on proper training, preparation, recovery so as to improve the competition and the performance of the players.
“So the onus is upon the leadership to manage these elements,” said Mutekede.