DR Congo coach Otis Ngoma, has declared that his team is ready for their first game at the TotalEnergies African Nations Championship 2022 (CHAN) on Saturday when they take on neighbours Uganda.
The two-time winners will face the Cranes at the 19 May 1956 Stadium in the Algerian city of Annaba in the opening Group B match.
Despite defeating Libya 3-1 in a friendly game in Tunisia last week, Ngoma’s side were widely thought not to have prepared well because of the few friendlies but the tactician insists they are ready for the fight.
“A coach must adapt. We are less than 24 hours to our game and the state of the team technically, physically and mentally – we’re ready. There’s cohesion in the team. We are confident because this is a big competition and ready to fight,” Ngoma said during his pre-match press conference on Friday.
“We’re ready. We played just two friendly games, but it permitted us to see all the players and know to count on and which substitutions we can bring in the course of the game. So we will try to capitalize on that tomorrow.
“We have all our chances just like the others. It is a derby, for those who don’t know, these are two neighbouring countries, with lots of similarities in terms of history and diplomatic relations. So we will play for the Congolese people,” Ngoma added.
The former Renaissance of Congo and DC Motema Pembe manager, inherited a Congolese side that has won the competition twice (2009 and 2016).
His first litmus test comes against an ambitious Uganda side headed by Milutin Sredojević, but Ngoma says they will approach the game, conscious of how difficult their opponent can be.
“It is my first CHAN. We want to represent our country in style. We have a strange history against Uganda. They beat us in the group stage at AFCON 2019 and we were eliminated at the group stage. We will do our best to shake off this frustration tomorrow. So we know the difficulties that we will face tomorrow, we know what they’re capable of doing.
Ngoma will be counting on the experience of the likes of Djo Issama Mpeko in Leopards’ quest for a third CHAN trophy.
The 33-year-old TP Mazembe defender, who is making his third TotalEnergies CHAN tournament appearance, declared that he will be seeking to win the title as this will be his last time in the competition.
“Our objective is to go as far as possible in this competition and why not add a third trophy,” said Mpeko, who previously featured in the 2011 and 2020 editions of the competition.
“For me, it is my last CHAN as a player. I have had the opportunity to feature in the competition before. I was in Cameroon during the last edition but could not play because of COVID-19. My role is to help the team and show a good example on and off the pitch and my main objective is to win this trophy.
DR Congo, who won the maiden edition of the TotalEnergies African Nations championship in 2009, are in their sixth participation, having missed the 2018 edition in Morocco.