The Democratic Republic of Congo booked their place in the Africa Cup of Nations semifinals for the first time since 2015 after coming from behind to defeat Guinea 3-1 in the quarterfinals on Wednesday.
In a game filled with controversial penalty calls, Guinea initially took the lead through Mohamed Bayo’s spot-kick in the 20th minute after the forward was fouled by Chancel Mbemba in the box. However, DR Congo equalized just 7 minutes later when Mbemba redeemed himself by firing in an angled shot at the other end following a corner.
The second half saw DR Congo awarded a penalty of their own when Brentford’s Yoane Wissa converted expertly from the spot in the 65th minute after Guinea’s Julian Jeanvier was adjudged to have clipped Silas’ legs in the box. Despite Guinean protests, the Video Assistant Referee did not intervene on either of the debatable first half penalties.
With a 2-1 advantage, DR Congo never looked back as they sealed the historic victory when left back Arthur Masuaku’s swerving 25-yard free kick somehow beat Guinea keeper Ibrahim Kone at the near post with just over 10 minutes remaining.
The ecstatic Congolese fans in the stadium erupted in joyous celebration as their side confirmed a semi-final showdown against either Ivory Coast or Mali on Wednesday for a chance to compete in the final.
Going into the match, DR Congo were winless in their four previous Afcon games, having drawn all their group stage matches before requiring penalties to get past Egypt in the round of 16. But they showed tremendous spirit to rally back against a Guinea side competing in their first quarterfinals since 2015.
Despite bringing on Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy from the bench, 2015 quarterfinalists Guinea had no response after going behind and failed to seriously threaten DR Congo’s goal besides a late deflected effort from Guirassy.
The historic night was DR Congo’s first Afcon semi-final appearance in 8 years, as they aim to capture their third continental title and first since 1974. Their comeback victory exemplified the grit and determination that could take them all the way this tournament if they maintain this level.