FIFA World Cup™ finals history
In qualifying for Germany 1974, Congo DR, which was known as Zaire at the time, became the first sub-Saharan African nation to reach the world finals. The Simbas had a tournament to forget, however, conceding 14 goals in group-phase defeats to Brazil, Scotland and Yugoslavia, while scoring none. Now nicknamed the Leopards, Congo DR have failed to return to the World Cup since that historic yet ultimately luckless campaign.

The team
Congo DR are beginning to make their mark again in African football, thanks in the main to TP Mazembe’s return to the elite. The Lubumbashi-based club won back-to-back CAF Champions League titles in 2009 in 2010, the year in which they also reached the final of the FIFA Club World Cup. The spine of the national side is formed by a clutch of experienced players enjoying successful careers in Europe, among them Dieumerci Mbokani, Yannick Bolasie, Youssouf Mulumbu and Neeskens Kebano.

The coach
Florent Ibengue is something of a role model as a successful African-born coach. A former defender who played in Germany, France and Belgium, Ibengue forged his reputation in leading AS Vita Club to the CAF Champions League final and steering Congo DR to the semi-finals of the 2015 CAF Africa Cup of Nations.

The stat
9 - The number of goals Zaire conceded in their meeting with Yugoslavia at Germany 1974, without reply, the joint-biggest margin of defeat in the history of the World Cup, matching Hungary’s respective 9-0 and 10-1 defeats of Korea Republic and El Salvador at Switzerland 1954 and Spain 1982.

Former stars
Pierre Ndaye Mulamba, Ricky Mavuba, Shabani Nonda, Etepe Kakoko, Robert Kidiaba