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Soccer News of Tuesday, 2 January 2001

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Congo DR move camp to Cameroun

The Congo Democratic Republic national team, the Simbas, have revived their campaign to become the only African side to win the African Nations Cup with three different names, with a training camp in neighbouring Cameroon to prepare for the Mali 2002 qualifier against Ghana on January 14 in Kinshasa.

In 1968, playing as Congo Leopoldville, the Central African side won the Nations Cup for the first time by beating Ghana in the final in Addis Ababa. Six years later, the same country won the trophy for the second time and qualified for the World Cup finals as Zaire.

It was in Burkina Faso that the Simbas played as Congo DR for the first time in a Nations Cup finals. The side came very close to the title, winning bronze after losing the semi-finals to South Africa and making a gallant come- back from 4-1 against the hosts to win the third-place play-off match.

Whether football skills from the soil of the current African champions, Cameroon, is anything to give the Simbas inspiration is another matter, but that is exactly where, the new Simbas coach, Adelard Mayanga has headed for to prepare the Simbas for the Ghana encounter. A proposed training camp in Morocco was cancelled due to financial reasons.

For the next two weeks, the Simbas will be based in Cameroon’s second largest city, Douala, and the Congolese will be using facilities at the Kadji Sports Academy. The home-based players and two professionals are currently in camp, but Mayanga has also invited some of the foreign-based players from Italy, Belgium and Germany to camp before the big group six Nations Cup qualifier against the Ghanaians.

Kinshasa is not a strange place for Ghana’s new coach, Jones Attuquayefio. The former Black Stars midfielder escaped elimination from the Champions League in Kinshasa with his side Hearts of Oak at the hands of club side, Motema Pembe. Attuquayefio, however, was at the losing end 32 years ago, when the Black Stars lost to Congo Leopoldville 1-0 in the Nations Cup final.

Congo DR are third in group six after drawing 1-1 with Lesotho in Kinshasa and a 3-2 defeat to Zimbabwe in Harare. Ghana lead the group with four points ahead of Zimbabwe. Two teams from the seven qualifying groups will automatically qualify for the Nations Cup in Mali in 2002.