‘Royal’ Africa Cup of Nations victory for Congo

Johannesburg (AFP) – Prince Ibara and Prince Oniangue scored and a player wore gloves in stifling heat as Congo Brazzaville beat Liberia 3-1 Thursday in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Liberia president George Weah, the 1995 world, European and African footballer of the year, was among the crowd who saw Congo deservedly secure maximum Group G points. 

Merveil Ndockyt converted a cross on 15 minutes to give the Congolese ‘Red Devils’ a 1-0 half-time advantage at a vibrant Stade Alphonse Massamba-Debat.

Norway-based Sam Johnson levelled two minutes after the break with a screaming shot that was warmly applauded by Weah, whose clubs included Monaco, Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan.

The two Princes then swung the match in favour of former African champions Congo with headed goals for Ibara on 62 minutes and Oniangue in the final minute of regular time. 

Liberia defender Kemoh Kamara attracted attention by wearing gloves despite the 31-degree celsius (87 fahrenheit) temperature. 

It was a much-needed victory for Congo under Brazilian coach Valdo Candido as they play catch-up against neighbours the Democratic Republic of Congo, and Zimbabwe.

All three countries have four points with DR Congo first on head-to-head records, and Congo third having played one match more.

Liberia, who host Congo in Paynesville on Tuesday during matchday 4, have taken just one point from three matches and are virtually out of contention.

The top two finishers after a double-round qualify for the 2019 Cup of Nations in Cameroon, where 24 countries will compete for the first time, and in a new June/July slot.

A Group F fixture between Ghana and Sierra Leone in Kumasi was cancelled because the latter nation is banned by FIFA over government interference.  

There are 10 qualifiers Friday, including record seven-time African champions Egypt against eSwatini (formerly Swaziland) in Cairo. 

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