The Democratic Republic of Congo and Ghana will battle for a place in the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals when they meet at the Stade d’Oyem in the Gabonese city of Oyem on Sunday.
The Leopards have emerged as dark horses to come up tops in Gabon, with Florent Ibenge’s men having topped Group C with two wins and a draw.
The reigning African Nations Championship champions beat Morocco and Togo while ousted 2015 champions, the Ivory Coast, came from behind twice to hold the two-time champions to a 2-2 stalemate.
Key to DR Congo’s success has been the form of Junior Kabananga. The Astana man with three goals in as many games, will again be the man to look out for as the Leopards aim to better their third-place finish two years ago.
“We are done with the group stages, we have to rest. It’s been two consecutive editions in the quarter-finals. We want to go further,” Ibenge was quoted as saying by AfricanFootball.com.
However, Newcastle United defender Chancel Mbemba is an injury concern for DR Congo.
Their opponents, Ghana, finished second in Group D following a 1-0 defeat to Egypt in their final group game. Mohamed Salah condemned the Black Stars to their first defeat in Gabon after the 2015 AFCON runners-up beat both Uganda and Togo.
While the result against the Pharaohs carried little consequence, the potential loss of captain Asamoah Gyan could serve as a massive blow to Ghana. The star forward left the field in the first-half in what was his 99th appearance for his country; searching for his 50th goal.
“I’m in pain right now. I don’t know the extent of the injury, we have to go for an MRI scan,” Gyan told BBC Sport after the Egypt match.
“I’m desperate to come back and I’ll try as much as possible but if I cannot, it’s part of the game.”
Head coach Avram Grant added that the West Africans are ready for DR Congo with Andre and Jordan Ayew set to play a vital role if Gyan is to miss out.
“DR Congo are a good side and I know it will be a tough game, but we will be up for it,” Grant said.