Neeskens Kebano was the super sub, coming off the bench to score the winner as the Democratic Republic of Congo put their hopes of qualifying for the Total Africa Cup of Nations back on track with a 1-0 victory away to Angola on Tuesday.
Kebano hit the back of the net 10 minutes after coming on in the second half as the Congolese moved to six points, just one shy of leaders Gambia and Guinea respectively.
With one point from four matches, Angola’s hopes have now been dimmed with two rounds of matches left.
A balanced opening half saw both teams create scoring opportunities but none was lucky enough to get the ball into the net. Yannick Bolassie was presented with two chances, first beating the keeper to a cross from the right but his header skied over the bar.
In the second minute, the Everton FC forward slid in to try meet up with a teasing cross from Jordan Botaka, but he was a second late as the ball rolled across the face of goal with the keeper well beaten.
Angola had their first real opportunity of the game on the half hour mark, but they couldn’t make it count as Jacinto Muondo Dala saw his fierce left foot shot saved by the keeper off a cross from the left.
A minute to the break, Fabio Goncalves showed some good feet to skip past two markers, but his low drive from range went wide, with the keeper fully stretched.
Goncalves had another opportunity three minutes after the break when he was put through on goal by Dala, but his shot from the right went against the side netting.
DR Congo made changes with Fabrice Ngoma and Samuel Moutoussamy coming off for Yanninck Bangala and Kebano. Just 10 minutes after coming on, Kebano proved to be the game changer.
The midfielder took on a daunting drive before releasing a belter of a low shot that landed on the bottom left, handing Les Leopards a worthy lead.
They held on to the advantage but the home side was never going down without a fight as they improved their forays upfront. They came close with eight minutes left, but Dala’s effort from a freekick rattled the upright, the keeper well beaten.
DR Congo managed to contain the last bits of attack to preserve the lead and put their hopes of qualification back on track.