How Arthur Masuaku's magic free-kick rewrote history at Africa Cup of Nations

©Arthur Masuaku FB

FOOTBALL How Arthur Masuaku's magic free-kick rewrote history at Africa Cup of Nations

Festus Chuma 14:07 - 03.02.2024

Arthur Masuaku's remarkable free-kick led DR Congo to the AFCON semi-finals marking a historic achievement with set-piece prowess.

Former West Ham defender Arthur Masuaku carved his name into the annals of African football history with a mesmerizing free-kick propelling DR Congo into the Africa Cup of Nations semi-finals.

His pivotal goal in the 82nd minute against Guinea not only sealed a 3-1 victory but also marked DR Congo's first direct free-kick goal in the tournament since Paul-José M'Poku's strike in 2017.

The Leopards found themselves trailing after Guinea's Mohamed Bayo converted a penalty and the  tides began to turn when Chancel Mbemba, the former Newcastle player, leveled the scoreline, reigniting the Leopards' hopes.

The momentum swung further in their favor when Brentford’s Yoane Wissa successfully netted a penalty, setting the stage for Masuaku’s historic moment. 

According to CAF Online, Masuaku's spectacular free-kick marked his third goal for his country in 26 caps and shattered a significant record. The drought of direct free-kicks for DR Congo at the Africa Cup of Nations had persisted since 2017 when Paul-José M'Poku found the target against Togo.

Chancel Mbemba's goal, a critical equalizer, also carved a niche in the record books.

At 29 years and 178 days old, he became the second oldest goalscorer for DR Congo in the Africa Cup of Nations, following Nicodème Kabamba's record set in 1968.

Moreover, his goal from a corner was only the Leopards' second since 2010 in the tournament, following his own goal in 2019 against Madagascar.

DR Congo's defensive resilience was also on display, despite conceding a penalty. This was only the third penalty they have allowed in their last 22 AFCON games.

DR Congo joined an elite group, becoming the second nation to score at least three goals in an AFCON knockout match with every shot on target converted, emulating Burkina Faso's feat in the 2021 edition.

This victory not only secured DR Congo's place in the semi-finals but also marked their sixth appearance at this stage in the tournament's history, and their second in the 21st century since 2015. 

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