The Congo team had one of the highest profiles among the African nations in the 1970s and will be looking forward to the qualifiers for the FIFA World Cup South Africa 2010 ™. The countrymen of the legendary Paul Moukila did not make it to Germany 2006, despite putting up a good fight in Group 1 of the qualifiers, where they faced Senegal, Zambia, Mali and Togo. The Diables Rouges ended up fourth ahead of Mali and Liberia, one point behind Zambia.
Congo's first foray into the FIFA World Cup took place in 1972 when the Diables Rouges took on Nigeria ahead of Germany 1974. Two games later - following a 2-1 defeat in the west African nation and a 1-1 home draw - Congo's first FIFA World Cup experience had come to an end.
Four years later, Congo advanced to the second round at Cameroon's expense, but then lost both matches against Côte d'Ivoire to crash out of the competition. It was to be their last FIFA World Cup game for 12 years as they failed to enter the next three editions before making a comeback for USA 1994. Grouped with Nigeria and South Africa it was - once again - a short campaign and after four defeats out of four games, the Congolese FIFA World Cup dream had been put on hold for another four years.
In the qualifying campaign for France 1998, Congo came agonisingly close to reaching the final tournament. After beating favourites South Africa 2-0, the two countries were neck and neck in a group that included Zambia and the Congo DR. South Africa had benefited from a decision that the Congo DR had to play their final two home qualifying matches at a neutral venue due to the civil war raging in the country. Two wins later and it was South Africa who were heading for France.
In the qualifying competition for Korea/Japan 2002, Congo failed to repeat their earlier success and finished bottom of their group.
That failure has made the side even more determined to do well this time around. Congo have just named Ivica Todorov as their new coach and the Serbian will be counting on players like Christopher Samba (Blackburn Rovers, England) and captain Oscar Ewolo of Lorient in France.