DR Congo’s defender #24 Gedeon Kalulu (L) and DR Congo’s midfielder #8 Samuel Moutoussamy (2R) celebrate next to Egypt’s players after winning at the end of the Africa Cup of Nations (CAN) 2024 round of 16 football match between Egypt and DR Congo at the Stade Laurent Pokou in San Pedro on January 28, 2024. (Photo by SIA KAMBOU / AFP)
Record seven-time champions Egypt, lacking injured talisman Mohamed Salah, were knocked out of the Africa Cup of Nations on Sunday after losing a penalty shootout 8-7 against DR Congo.
Goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi converted the winning spot-kick in San-Pedro after fellow shot-stopper Mohamed Abou Gabal had seen his kick strike the bar and fly over.
A tense last-16 clash finished 1-1 after extra time with Meschack Elia scoring on 37 minutes for DR Congo and Mostafa Mohamed equalising in first-half added time from a penalty.
Liverpool star Salah was injured in a group match against Ghana and returned to his club, who said he would probably only be able to return to the tournament if Egypt reached the final.
DR Congo will face Guinea, last-gasp 1-0 winners over Equatorial Guinea earlier on Sunday, next Friday in Abidjan for a place in the semi-finals.
Egypt and DR Congo may between them have won nine of the previous 33 Cup of Nations tournaments, but neither country managed even one victory in the group stage in the Ivory Coast this month.
They finished runners-up to Cape Verde and Morocco respectively in mini-leagues with identical records of three draws and three points.
Where they differed was in the number of goals scored with Egypt netting six times, including three from France-based Mohamed, and DR Congo only twice.
This was the fifth AFCON clash between the countries from 1970 with the Pharaohs defeating the Leopards three times and losing once ahead of the showdown in the west Ivorian coastal city.
Notable absentees through injuries were Egyptian Mohamed el Shenawy, widely regarded as the best Africa-based goalkeeper and DR Congo playmaker Gael Kakuta.
Egypt dominated possession in a cagey opening half until DR Congo snatched the lead with a controversial Elia goal.
DR Congo took a throw-in that Egypt claimed should have been theirs and, while the North Africans protested, Yoane Wissa crossed for Elia to nod into the net at the far post.
A VAR review confirmed the goal and the off-field officials were also involved in the Egyptian equaliser a minute into added time at the end of the first half.