Herita Ilunga's DR Congo began their 2012 CAF Africa Cup of Nations quest with a disappointing home defeat by Senegal on Sunday.
The Leopards lost 4-2 in Kinshasha, but were actually 3-0 down by the 19th minute with Mame Nianga and Senegalese captain Mahamdou Niang scoring twice. Pataou Kabangu reduced the deficit just before half-time but Niang completed his hat-trick after the break before Kabangu struck a late consolation second.
It was a difficult day for the Congolese, under new coach Robert Nourazert, in a match played in temperatures approaching 40 degree heat. Group E favourites Cameroon had won 3-1 against Mauritius the day before, meaning Ilunga's side face a difficult battle to keep pace with their more illustrious rivals.
DR Congo are next in action next month when they travel to Yaounde to face Cameroon.