January 22, 2015 / 9:27 PM / 3 years ago

UPDATE 1-Soccer-Veteran goalkeeper saves the day for DR Congo

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By Mark Gleeson

EBIBEYIN, Equatorial Guinea, Jan 22 (Reuters) - Key saves in the final five minutes by the Democratic Republic of Congo goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba kept his side’s goal intact and ensured a goalless draw with Cape Verde in the African Nations Cup on Thursday.

Kidiaba, who turns 39 next month and is the oldest player at the tournament, made a double save in the 85th minute to deny Cape Verde the best chance of a bland match and then again two minutes later from Heldon’s shot.

He stopped a header from defender Fernando Varela on the goalline and then, pouncing up like a cat, smothered the rebound from Gege to deny a breakthrough after 85 minutes of dreary exchanges.

Heldon broke free soon after and cut inside but once again Kidiaba defied his age to spring off his line and cover his angles perfectly, blocking the shot with his chest.

Cape Verde had two half chances in the first half while the only shot on target in the entire 90 minutes from the Congolese came when Yannick Bolasie attempted an effort on the stroke of the halftime.

But in contrast to his opening day performance when he scored against Zambia, he was poor and taken off in the second half.

“We battled to handle the pace of the Cape Verdian attackers but we were unable to get the ball up to our strikers,” explained DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge.

Their English-based captain Youssouf Mulumbu went off with a hamstring injury in the first half.

Cape Verde and the Congolese have drawn their opening two matches in Group B, and sit behind Tunisia (four points) in the standings. Zambia, the 2012 winners, are bottom of the group after a 2-1 loss to Tunisia in their earlier match in front of a capacity 5,000-strong stadium. (Editing by Justin Palmer; mark.gleeson@thomsonreuters.com; +240222770533; Reuters Messaging: mark.gleeson.thomsonreuters.com@reuters.net)

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