Congo brings 'Wizard' to Nations Cup

  Posted: 11 Jan 13, 12:54

By: Akinbode Oguntuyi

Claude Le Roy, the man widely known in Africa as the "white wizard" has promised to shock Ghana and Mali in Port Elizabeth when the Nations Cup kicks off in South Africa next week.

DR Congo are back at the Cup of Nations after a seven-year break, with French coach Claude le Roy also in charge when they reached the 2006 quarter-finals before bowing out to hosts Egypt. 

Presidential request
Le Roy took Ghana to third place two years later and also spent time in Oman before receiving a telephone call from Kinshasa.
Congolese President Joseph Kabila was on the line and he persuaded the coach to come back to central Africa and take over the struggling Leopards, who have failed to qualify for the past three Cup of Nations.
- The team was in very bad shape, recalled Le Roy in a Congolese radio interview. 
- They were ranked 35 in Africa and many stars were no longer interested in playing for the national team.

 - An unstable political situation meant football had taken a back seat for a few years, so the priority was to restore confidence to the team and help it operate more professionally. 

- DR Congo has too much potential to accept not being among the best teams on the continent," said the coach who guided Cameroon to victory over Nigeria in the 1988 Africa Cup decider.

- It will be a difficult pool for us as we are less favoured than Ghana and Mali, who were 2012 semi-finalists. But I like being outsiders and qualifying for the quarter-finals would be a beautiful dream.  

DR Congo, whose titles came in 1968 and 1974, have faced Ghana six times in the Cup of Nations, winning two and losing four, and Mali twice, winning and losing once.

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