Florent Ibenge is not sure what kind of squad he will take to the COSAFA Castle Cup but he is 100 percent positive about one thing – his Democratic Republic of Congo team are out to win.
The composition of the Leopards’ squad for the 14-team tournament in Namibia from June 11-25 is not yet clear as Ibenge has chosen a party of 31 for a training camp in Italy, two friendly internationals against Romania and Egypt and the African Nations Cup qualifier on June 5 against COSAFA member Madagascar.
Following that they will head to Windhoek but not necessarily with the same side.
“I will see who is available and who can play,” said the DR Congo coach.
“But it will be a serious team because we are on a serious mission. There is no international assignment that the DR Congo takes likely,” he warned.
Ibenge will arrive in Windhoek on something of a purple patch, not only for the country but for himself as one of the continent’s up and coming coaches too.
DR Congo won the African Nations Championship in Rwanda at the start of the year, the tournament for quasi-national teams made up of home-based players only. They were third at the last African Nations Cup final in Equatorial Guinea and Ibenge has taken AS Vita Club to the African Champions League final in 2014 and now back to the group phase as football in the giant central African country thrives.
“We have a proud record we have to defend and we have an image we have to show. There is no way we go to the COSAFA Castle Cup for a holiday. We will go there with just one ambition in mind and that is to win the competition. There is no other alternative,” Ibenge adds
“It is a big honour for us to be invited but even though we are the guests we’ll be wanting to take the trophy home with us. We will be very competitive and difficult to beat. This is something we are grateful we can compete in. We know there are a lot of strong teams in the southern region of Africa and it is an experience that can only bolster our own game.”
DR Congo appear as guests at the 2016 COSAFA Castle Cup following the likes of Ghana and Tanzania who have previously also been invited to the annual southern African championship.