Congo’s soccer champions win first Africa Cup

Afrique En Ligne reports March 8: “Against all predictions, the Democratic Republic of Congo on Sunday beat Ghana 2-0 to win the first edition of the African Nations Championship for players in the domestic leagues.

Congo Leopards star Mabi Mputu was named Best Player by the African Football Confederation. - Photo: AFP“After a goalless first half, the Leopards of DR Congo devoured the Black Stars of Ghana with goals by Kaluyituka Dioko and Mbenza Bedi to make the Congolese the first winners of the brand new tournament.

“The result of the match, which was played at the Felix Houphouet Boigny Stadium in Abidjan, the former Ivorian capital, was a good revenge for the Congolese, who lost 0-3 to the Ghanaians in the group stage of the competition.

“Sunday’s victory was the first piece of silverware to be won by DR Congo since the 1974 African Cup of Nations feat in Cairo, Egypt. …

“The next edition of the two-yearly competition is due to be held in Sudan in 2011, and African soccer’s governing body, CAF, said the number of teams in the second edition will be raised to 16, from the 8 in the just concluded competition.”

Before the game, Football 365 interviewed DR Congo coach Santos “Obama” Muntubile, who returned home to the Congo after a long career as a star player in Europe. He said: “When I was in Europe, I decided to come back home to bring my small contribution to our country and bring my expertise to the youth of my country. But it is very difficult compared to the other countries because of the means. That is the big problem we’re facing in our country. We don’t have enough means like South Africa, Tunisia. It’s a big problem. We are trying with the small resources we have to contribute to football in the continent and particularly in my country.”

Asked how he feels when people call him “Obama,” Muntubile responded: “I remember when we beat Cameroon the first leg and second leg and that name came up. I think for the people in the country, calling me Obama is a symbol of hope, victory.”