Qualification history
Congo have yet to grace a FIFA World Cup™ despite enjoying a golden era several decades back, which yielded a continental title in 1972. The closest they came was a spot at France 1998, when their ticket ultimately went to South Africa after a 1-0 loss to their closest rivals in the final round of group games. Congo's last two attempts have seen the team unable to force their way into the third round on both occasions.

The team
Their 1970s heyday may be long gone, but Les Diables Rouges (Red Devils) can draw on a considerable pool of talent, including the generation of players who appeared at the FIFA U-17 World Cup 2011. They likewise boast a number of stalwarts enriched by spells in Europe's biggest leagues, and they will be hopeful of having their say on the road to Russia. In particular, midfielders Delvin Ndinga and Prince Oniangue have both showcased their talents in French Ligue 1, while forward Thievy Bifouma knows all about top-level football thanks to stints in England and Spain.

The coach
Now in charge of his fifth African national side after spells with Cameroon, Senegal, Congo DR and Ghana, Claude Le Roy is a coach who needs little introduction. Dubbed Le Sorcier Blanc (the White Wizard), the Frenchman has also overseen Malaysia, Oman and Syria, enjoying plenty of success along the way. He led Cameroon to victory in the CAF Africa Cup of Nations and later took Oman to Gulf Cup glory, but he has yet to steer a team all the way to a World Cup finals. Le Roy resigned in November 2015 after leading the side into the third stage of Russia 2018 qualifiers.

The stat
16 – Congo's all-time leading scorer is Macchambes Younga-Mouhani, who holds that title despite a modest haul of 16 goals for Les Diables Rouges. His record thus lies tantalisingly within reach for the nation's current forwards.

The former stars
Paul Moukila, Jean-Michel Mbono, Germain Ndzabana