By Boris Esono Nwenfor
The Coach of the Leopards of the Democratic Republic of Congo Florent Ibenge says what happened to the team before they faced Cameroon for the quarter-finals was quite unfortunate and could even be seen as criminal.
Florent Ibenge was speaking after the game as his side was beaten 2-1 by the Intermediate Lions of Cameroon. DRC had their hopes up of making it to the semis after Lilepo had opened the scoring for the Leopards at the 22nd minute.
The team could not maintain that lead as Cameroon equalized through Yannick N’Djeng at the 29th minute and completed their comeback at the 41st minute through Felix Oukine.
“We did not work as we could so we should think of getting better in the next competition. I do not want to be political but what happened to us was not nice,” DR Congo Coach Florent Ibenge told journalists in a post-match press conference.
“Negatively I took drugs when I was not sick, we had an issue. We were declared COVID-19 positive, players did not play whereas they were not sick. It is not good. It is even criminal.”
Coach Florent Ibenge went on to add that: “We did not have Zambo Zombo in the game, which made him not to play. Congratulations to Cameroon. 13 players were declared COVID-19 positive. We were tested at 11 pm and we got results at 2:30 pm, this is not fair. I think it is not nice and it gives a bad image of Cameroon. At this time I will tell you that there was counter expertise. Our results went to a laboratory that is not approved by CAF and the results were not valid because the results by CAF latter proved different.”
The team despite being eliminated from this competition is already looking ahead of the next edition. “I congratulate the lions, we are going back home when we were not prepared to go out at this level but we will be back and prepared for the next competitions,” Florent Ibenge said.
DR Congo remains the most successful nation of the ongoing Africa Nations Championship. The country has won the competition twice; in 2009 and 2016. This elimination will surely lead to questions being asked about the future of the Coach but not had been made in this direction by the DRC Football Federation.