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1974 World Cup: Zaire wins a friendly but loses all tournament matches

Updated: Dec 20, 2023

Zaïre - VfB Oldenburg 1974

The Leopards in their warm-up match against VfB Oldenburg. (June 3, 1974) | Credit: Horstmüller


Zaire's participation in the 1974 World Cup marked a significant milestone in African football history. As the first sub-Saharan African nation to reach the final phase of this prestigious tournament, the team's journey began with high hopes and preparations in West Germany.

Before the World Cup officially kicked off, Zaire engaged in a warm-up match against the regional club VfB Oldenburg. The game took place on June 3, 1974, and showcased the talents of the African champions as Zaire managed to secure a victory against VfB Oldenburg.

The match saw Zaire's impressive performance, with Wegner scoring in the first fifteen minutes. The lead was further extended by goals from Kidumu and Bwanga, resulting in a halftime score of 2-1 in favor of Zaire.

In the second half, Zaire continued their dominance, with Kabasu, Mana, and Mayanga finding the back of the net to increase the lead to 5-2. Although VfB Oldenburg managed to convert a penalty through Struckmann, it was not enough to overcome Zaire's strong showing.


Kidumu Mantantu, Ndaye Mulamba and Mayanga Maku during Zaire's warm-up match against VfB Oldenburg in West Germany. (June 3, 1974) | Credit: Horstmüller


The victory against VfB Oldenburg provided a confidence boost for Zaire's coach, Blagoje Vidinić, as they geared up for the upcoming World Cup matches. It demonstrated the team's potential and ability to secure a win on the international stage.

However, despite the positive start, Zaire faced significant challenges in the subsequent World Cup tournament. Placed in Group 2 alongside Scotland, Yugoslavia, and Brazil, they were unable to replicate their success from the warm-up match.

Zaire's campaign in the World Cup proved to be a difficult one, as they suffered defeats in all their group stage matches. They started with a 2-0 loss to Scotland, followed by a devastating 9-0 defeat against Yugoslavia. The final group match against Brazil ended in a 3-0 loss.


The Leopards in their group matches against Scotland, Yugoslavia and Brazil (June 14-18-22, 1974) | Credit: FIFA/SNS Group/VI Images


While their World Cup journey ended in disappointment, Zaire's participation in the tournament left a lasting impact. It served as a testament to the progress and potential of African football, paving the way for future generations of players from the region.

In conclusion, Zaire's Leopards victory against VfB Oldenburg in the warm-up match showcased their capabilities, but their subsequent struggles in the World Cup highlighted the challenges faced by developing football nations. Nonetheless, their participation in the 1974 World Cup remains a significant milestone in African football history.


Henock Kalala - (LEBEAUZAÏRE)


Footage of the Leopards' warm-up match against West Germany's VfB Oldenburg. (June 3, 1974)



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