DR Congo captain Youssouf Mulumbu is upbeat the presence of Yannick Bolasie and Firmin Mubele will make a difference in their Group B opener against Zambia on Sunday in Ebebiyin.
The two neighbours cross each other’s path for the first time since the final of the 1974 edition and Mulumbu, who plays for English side, West Bromwich Albion counts on debutants, Bolasie and Mubele to aid their quest for a perfect start at the 30th edition of the continental flagship event.
Crystal Palace winger, Bolasie has been in the ‘form of his life’ in recent times whilst Mubele comes into the tournament barely few days after being crowned the African Player of the Year (Based in Africa) at the Glo-CAF Awards Gala in Lagos, Nigeria last week.
“We are a small team and we have good players like Bolasie and Mubele, who did not play at the 2013 edition and that has changed our team. And that’s what we will use to win the game,” Mulumbu told a press briefing on the eve of the match.
“The first game is always important in every competition” said the 27-year old midfielder who will be making a successive appearance with the Leopards after their first round exit on his debut in 2013 in South Africa.
“We have really worked hard the last 15 days and we will show what we can do on the pitch.”
Zambia, champions in 2012 borders DR Congo to the north and Mulumbu, who was born in the capital, Kinshasa, reckons the rivalry between the two sides will be renewed. The captain of Chipolopolo, Rainford Kalaba and forward Given Singuluma are on the books of DR Congo giants, TP Mazembe whilst central defender Sunzu Stopila and midfielder Nathan Sinkala cut their footballing teeth at the Lubumbashi-based club.
“I think (the fact that we are neighbours) will have an impact on the game. Both teams know each other. Zambia won it in 2012 so they are in a better position than us.
“We came through a tough group and deserve to be here, and we will show how best we are,” Mulumbu concluded.