On Tuesday, January 9 2016, Joseph Kabila president of the Republic of Congo presented brand new Toyota SUV jeeps to the members of the winning team of the African Nations Championship (CHAN). This will be the second time since inauguration of the tournament that Congo has emerged CHAN winning team.
The African Nations Championship tournaments 2016 which was hosted in Rwanda was initiated by CAF in 2007. History records that the maiden edition of this tournament in 2009, was hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo and as well championed by the DRC Leopards. This year again which is the 4th edition, the Leopards record yet another win.
As designed by CAF, the tournament is restricted to only African players in domestic leagues; this was done to give relevance to obviously talented players and for growing more and more new talents in African soccer. It is worthy to note that this tournament is recognized by FIFA, as such, the drawing ceremony for the tournament was graced by Sepp Blatter in 2014.
In 2009 the Democratic Republic of Congo Leopards beat the Ghana team to a 2-0 score; likewise this year they won the finals against Mali with a 3-0 score. Elias Mechak scored in both halves while Jonathan Bolingi crowned it all with a third goal. DRC’s Head Coach, Florent Ibenge, could not be more proud of the team. He had this to say:
“We had a solid defense but the midfield was the strength of my team. When you win, it is obvious to be happy and you are proud of your team. To have another star on your jersey is good news for any team. For this generation of players, winning the title is a good boost for their careers…”
Going further on, he admits to nursing the “ambition” to see the team qualify for the World Cup as the last time they qualified was in 1974.
On arrival to Kinshasa, the team members were welcomed at the airport with colorful grandiose; later on at DRC’s Presidential palace was held a welcome ceremony in which President Kabila symbolically handed the keys of the Brand new Toyota SUV jeeps to the team’s captain, Joel Kimwakji.
In addition to the trophy and Car gift, the team also won for themselves a cash price of $750,000. Mali on the 2nd spot won $400,000 while Cote d’Ivoire and Guinea on the 3rd and 4th respectively won $250,000 each.