Claude Le Roy’s men secured a point in their group opener but remain underdogs ahead of their clash with Jorge Costa’s side
Congo forward Dominique Malonga has called on his team-mates to play with the same spirit as they did against Equatorial Guinea in their second Africa Cup of Nations match with Gabon on Wednesday.
Claude Le Roy’s men fell behind in the tournament opener to a 16th-minute strike from Emilio Nsue and were second best for long periods.
However, Congo improved markedly in the closing stages and snatched a point when substitute Malonga set up Thievy Bifouma three minutes from time before missing a gilt-edged chance for a winner in the additional minutes.
Gabon can secure a place in the knock-out rounds with victory in Bata and a draw in the other Group A game between Equatorial Guinea and Burkina Faso.
However, Hibernian forward Malonga insists Congo – under the guidance of experienced Afcon campaigner Le Roy – have what it takes to pull off a shock and the keep the group wide open.
“We have a big game against Gabon. We know exactly what we have to do and we have to be focused, “Malonga said in quotes reported by BBC Sport.
“Gabon are a good team, you have to have good intensity for all of the game and I think we can win.
“He [Le Roy] is really important as all the pressure is on him and he has big experience. He talks so much with everyone and he knows the competition so well – we are happy to have a coach like that.
“There was intensity in the second half [versus Equatorial Guinea] we played very well. Against Gabon we have to attack very well to try to score.
“All is possible for us – it is a very important game and we are ready to compete.”
A fine finish from Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and a Malick Evouna strike gave Gabon a 2-0 victory over Burkina Faso in their first game.
That performance led Gabon’s Portuguese coach Jorge Costa to hail his side as “11 panthers”, while reserving specific praise for goalkeeper Didier Ovono, who produced a number of fine saves to keep Burkina Faso at bay.
After coming through a stern test against arguably their strongest rivals in the group, Gabon will be expected to kick on and ease to a place in the quarter-finals.
However, Costa knows there is still plenty of work to do before Gabon can think of a possible last-eight clash.
“We already have three points, but it is not over yet,” Costa said.