This qualification will mean a lot for our people back home–DRC’s Gael Kakuta

* We had a difficult group with strong teams but hard work and support from our people got us through

* Despite Tanzania not qualifying, it’s a very good nation that is progressing

Maravi Express

The Democratic Republic of the Congo defender, Gael Kakuta contends that qualification to the knockout stages of the CAF Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) Côte d’Ivoire 2023 means a lot to the people of his country.


The defender, who plies his trade in France with Amiens SC, collected the Man of the Match award last night following their 0-0 draw against Tanzania in a Group F clash at Korhogo’s Amadou Gon Coulibaly Stadium.

“It’s always good to get a trophy,” he said of the accolade. “What is important is the qualification and this is good for our people back home who we know have been behind us in this difficult journey.

“We had a difficult group with strong teams but hard work and support from our people got us through,” said Kakuta, who also commended the good display of Tanzania, who head home after finishing bottom of the group.

“Despite them not qualifying, it’s a very good nation that is progressing. They really gave us and the rest of the group a lot of work to do. For now, we are going to enjoy the moment. They didn’t score and that is a positive sign that we can work on.”

Another interesting qualification was by Confederation of Southern African Football Associations (COSAFA) representatives, Namibia, who managed to get a draw against Mali to progress to the knockout phase. 

The two sides played out at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro for a ticket in the knockout stage. Not much however was seen in terms of chances created but still Namibia coach Collin Benjamin praised his charges: “Proud to be Namibian, proud of my players, proud of their desire. It’s huge.

“Losing 4-0 three days ago and bouncing back like that against a strong African team is huge. Thanks to our character and mentality we managed to have this qualification. It was not written for us. 

“When we came here a few weeks ago, no one believed in us. We were told that we were small. We were counting the goals we were going to concede. But we showed that we were strong. 

“This is the message that I and my players sent today. Allow every Namibian to have dreams, that the dream is allowed for everyone but you have to work to make this dream come true”.

Mali topped Group E with South Africa coming second, Namibia third while Tunisia failed to qualify and Mali coach, Eric Chelle, whose side showed signs of fatigue, acknowledged that Namibia were dangerous.

“We needed a turnover and a change of system because I saw a lot of fatigue in my players so I had to deal with all that,” he said. “We started well but afterward it was difficult because we were facing a regrouped block which proceeded against. 

“The important thing is our qualification. It is a pride to lead this team. We will have to be effective in our physical preparation for our next match.”

In Algeria, its Football Federation (FAF) has terminated national team coach Djamel Belmadi’s contract following their difficult campaign in Côte d’Ivoire.

The decision to sever ties with the former international player came after the Desert Foxes suffered a 1-0 defeat against Mauritania in Bouake on Tuesday.

The loss against Mauritania hastened Algeria’s early elimination at the group stage and Belmadi’s contract was due to run until 2026 — but the decision was taken to prematurely end the agreement following their poor showing in the tournament.


FAF president Walid Sadi announced the decision on Wednesday after meeting with Belmadi to discuss Algeria’s group stage elimination from the 2023 tournament.

“We have reached an amicable agreement to end the contract between coach Djamel Belmadi and the Algerian Football Federation,” Sadi said in a tweet. “We thank him for everything he has done for the team and wish him good luck.”

Algeria had two draws in the competition after being held 1-1 by Angola and 2-2 by Burkina Faso before the defeat against the Mauritanian team made them finish bottom of Group D.

It is the first time since 1994 that Algeria has failed to progress from the group stage in back-to-back AFCONs and appointed in 2018, Belmadi led the to victory at the 2019 AFCON in Egypt.

But his side have struggled to replicate that form over the past year and

Tuesday’s 1-0 loss to Mauritania proved the final straw for the FAF, who have now begun the search for Belmadi’s successor.—Reporting by CAFonline