Chancel Mbemba with Marseille

AFCON Legends: DR Congo

AFCON Legends: DR Congo

Publish on 01/03 at 23:30 - P. MEEHAN


With the Africa Cup of Nations on the horizon in 2024 and dozens of Ligue 1 Uber Eats players set to represent their countries in Côte d’Ivoire, we continue a special series featuring the legends of the game from several of the countries that are participating. Today’s feature focuses on DR Congo.

Shabani Nonda: Stade Rennais FC 1998-2000, AS Monaco 2000-2005

Nonda was born in Burundi but represented the DR Congo national team, and he accumulated 36 caps and 20 goals with his country. He was part of the DR Congo squad during the 2002 Africa Cup of Nations. Nonda spent time in Ligue 1 with Stade Rennais and AS Monaco, making 178 appearances and scoring 88 goals. While at Monaco he won the league’s top scorer in the 02-03 season when they also won the Coupe de la Ligue. 

Hérita Ilunga: AS Saint-Étienne 2003-2007, FC Toulouse 2007-2009, Stade Rennais FC 2013.

Ilunga started his senior career in France with Saint-Étienne. He stayed with the club for four seasons, making a total of 135 appearances and also winning a club’s player of the season award. While his time with his other Ligue 1 clubs was not the best, he was able to be part of important moments like playing in the Champions League with Toulouse or reuniting with his first youth club, Rennes, in his later years. With DR Congo, he was part of the 2004 and 2006 Africa Cup of Nations squads.

Cédric Bakambu: FC Sochaux-Montbéliard 2010-2014, Olympique Marseille 2022.

Bakambu began his professional journey at Sochaux. His goal-scoring ability stood out during his tenure there, where he scored 21 goals in 107 appearances over five seasons. Born in France, Bakambu represented them at various youth levels. However, he later made the decision to represent the DR Congo at the senior level. With DR Congo, Bakambu made an immediate impact, scoring crucial goals in qualifiers and the Africa Cup of Nations. 

Gaël Kakuta: Dijon FCO 2012, Amiens SC 2017-2018, 2019-2021, RC Lens 2020-2022.

Kakuta's football journey has been an adventure that began in France's youth leagues before moving to Chelsea. Despite glimpses of his abilities with the team, he soon began his various loan spells. One of his loans included Dijon where he played in 14 matches. Then, while playing for the Chinese club Hebei China Fortune, he was sent on loan to play with Amiens for one season and a couple of years later eventually signed with the team permanently. He was also part of Lens’ squad from 2020 to 2022, scoring 14 goals. Even though Kakuta began his international career with French youth teams, he made the switch to represent the DR Congo national team in 2017. He has played in 16 matches scoring three goals with the national team.

Chancel Mbemba: Olympique Marseille 2022-present.

Mbemba captains the DR Congo national team where he has earned over 70 caps, second in the country’s history. He has played in four Africa Cup of Nations including a third place finish in 2015. 2023 was one of the best years of his career earning a place in the UNFP Ligue 1 Team of the Year, the CAF Team of the Year and the Prix Marc-Vivien Foé.

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