While the League 1 and League 2 championships were definitively suspended a month ago, FECOFA's Normalisation Committee announced that the second round of the Congo Cup would be staged in Kinshasa. An announcement that has divided opinion among Congolese clubs and sports analysts.
There is no longer any doubt that the final phase of the 58th edition of the Congo Cup will be held this year. The second round of the competition will take place from 1 to 20 June in Kinshasa, according to a press release sent to clubs by FECOFA's normalisation committee on 26 May. The announcement comes a month after the League 1 and League 2 championships were finally brought to a halt following a four-month delay in the calendar due to a lack of funds.
While some clubs welcomed FECOFA's announcement, others, such as defending champions Daring Club Motema Pembe, did not. For Les Immaculés de Kinshasa, the announcement is ill-timed for a number of reasons, not least the fact that players and members of the technical staff have been sent on holiday, with some foreigners returning to their respective countries, making it impossible to get them all together in the space of a week.
"We are very surprised by the announcement of the FECOFA Normalisation Committee. We had placed our hopes in this committee, but we are beginning to realise that there are certain singers who want to harm our football. They are trying to mislead the members of CONOR, and I would ask them to put things right and postpone their decision," said Homer Makutu, deputy secretary general of DCMP, on Top Congo FM.
He continued: "We are against improvisation. While we are all focused on the changes CONOR will bring to our football, they are announcing the organisation of the Congo Cup. We, DCMP, are in Ligue 1 and we have sent all our players on holiday. That's why I'm asking CONOR to reconsider its decision," says Homer Makutu.
Having failed to take part in the preliminary rounds of the Coupe du Congo, Ligue 1 and Ligue 2 clubs had until 27 May to register for the competition.
Registration not compulsory
The Congo Cup remains an important competition in the DRC. The winners qualify for the Confederation Cup. And it will be even more important this season, when the League 1 championship was brought to a screeching halt even before the end of the first leg. Hence the uncertainty surrounding the appointment of the Congolese representatives to the forthcoming CAF interclub competitions.
But there is only a week's difference between the announcement by FECOFA's CONOR and the kick-off date of the Congo Cup, fuelling debate in the sports press, where opinions are equally divided. For sports analyst Olivier Pengongo, the clubs were not obliged to release players before the end of the sporting season on 31 May, despite the definitive end of the championship.
"Who authorised clubs to send their players on holiday before the end of the season? LINAFOOT has not yet reported to FECOFA to make it clear that the championships have been definitively halted. The preliminaries (of the Congo Cup) have already been organised in various provinces. And the winning teams were only waiting for FECOFA to announce that the finals would be organised. We're not going to take it away from them to satisfy other clubs. It's not compulsory to enter the Congo Cup, and in my opinion only those clubs that feel able to take part in the competition will be able to do so," he said.
With all this outcry, it is not yet certain that the second round of the Congo Cup will actually kick off on Thursday 1 June. The reason for this is that, until 31 May, neither the names of the clubs entered nor the competition schedule have been published.