Anderlecht striker Dieumerci Mbokani lifted the Leopards to a 4-0 win over Equatorial Guinea’s Nzalang Nacional in Kinshasa in the first leg of the last round of qualifying.
The Leopards dominated the game from start to finish but were unable to find the net in the first half. The Nzalang held on during the first 45 minutes by playing it safe, hoping to come out of the game with at least a draw.
Ten minutes in the second half, Mbokani broke the deadlock with a header on a cross from Jean Kasusula.
After scoring a wonderful goal last week for TP Mazembe in the Champions League, Deo Kanda was back in form for the national team, getting rid of two defenders before unleashing a thunderbolt from just inside the box that left no chance to the goalkeeper on 64 minutes.
Vita Club’s Isama Mpeka and Mbokani added to the score on 74 and 81 minutes to extend a lead that will be hard for the Nzalang to overcome when the two teams meet again in the second leg on October 14. A draw or a defeat by less than three goals will be enough for the Leopards to qualify.
The Nzalang reached the last eight of the 2012 Africa Cup of Nations which Equatorial Guinea co-hosted with Gabon.
Barring a complete collapse, the Leopards look set to reach their first finals of the main international association football competition in Africa since 2006 after failing to qualify for the last three editions.
The finals of the Africa Cup of Nations will be held in South Africa next January.