• This Afcon is the first for France-born Wissa, 27, who began representing DR Congo, the nation of his parents’ birth, in 2020.
• DR Congo’s victory over The Pharaohs on Sunday prolonged Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah’s wait to win a first major international title with Egypt.
Brentford forward Yoane Wissa hailed the “togetherness” of his DR Congo team after they reached the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) quarter-finals in Ivory Coast by beating Egypt on penalties.
The Leopards looked impressive as they held Egypt to a 1-1 draw in San Pedro, with DR Congo goalkeeper Lionel Mpasi scoring the 18th penalty of a tense shoot-out to eliminate the seven-time Afcon champions 8-7 on spot kicks.
“No team will let us win, so togetherness has been the difference,” Wissa told BBC Sport Africa. “We are all together. We have the same targets. We know if we want to achieve something we need to work very hard because it’s not going to be easy.”
DR Congo, who will meet Guinea in the last eight on Friday in Abidjan, have found goals hard to come by so far at this Afcon. Despite having numerous chances, they have found the net only three times.
But Wissa, who sent in deflected cross from which Meschak Elia gave DR Congo the lead against Egypt and put them ahead for the first time in their campaign, says he is proud of his team’s resilience and the way they closed out their first win of the finals, having drawn three times in the group stage.
“We got there in the end,” he added. “I am happy because we fought. We fought a lot against a very strong team. I am very, very grateful for what we’ve done and for what happened.
“It has been a long journey since day one. We need to enjoy the rest time and then look forward to playing in the quarter-final.
This Afcon is the first for France-born Wissa, 27, who began representing DR Congo, the nation of his parents’ birth, in 2020.
While DR Congo are no strangers to reaching the knockout phase of Afcon, the last of their two tournament victories came in 1974, when they won as Zaire.
Their best performance in recent history was a third-place finish in the 2015 edition of the tournament, held in Equatorial Guinea.
Wissa hopes their latest achievement can bring joy to people in DR Congo.
“It makes me proud and grateful to have fought for the country,” he said. “We have done everything to let the people smile a bit.
“Hopefully they can enjoy the achievement and forget about things that happen in life.”
DR Congo coach Sebastien Desabre said the victory was one they had planned for, adding that he knew what it would mean to the fans.
“I’m proud of my players because hard work paid off. The commitment from the players for the national jersey is very exceptional,” Desabre said.
“I saw my team with a very good mentality because penalty kicks are not easy. I am very proud of them and it is good for the Congolese people in general.
What now for Egypt?
DR Congo’s victory over The Pharaohs on Sunday prolonged Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah’s wait to win a first major international title with Egypt.
The result has also raised questions about the future of Egypt’s Portuguese coach Rui Vitoria after a disappointing Afcon campaign in which they failed to win a match, drawing 2-2 against Cape Verde, Ghana and Mozambique in the group phase.
Vitoria put the defeat down to bad luck, saying there are “happy and sad moments” in football.
“Sometimes you do your best but the result does not come as you expect it,” he said after the match., external It wasn’t what we expected. We came up against a tough opponent.
“We’re very sad. We worked hard to go far in the competition. Then there was the penalty shoot-out and that wasn’t our day.
“Part of the responsibility is mine. We’re going to keep working with this team as long as I am here.”