DR Congo coach Sebastien Desabre has told his players only hard work will help them achieve their Africa Cup of Nations dream as they set their sights on a place in the semi-finals.

Desabre’s side face Guinea at the Stade Olympique Alassane Ouattara on Friday having progressed to the last eight without winning a single game in 90 minutes.

However, he is confident their industry and motivation can prolong their stay in Ivory Coast, with either the hosts or Mali awaiting the victors.

Desabre told a press conference: “The team is highly motivated. We know we can achieve more in this tournament, which for me is not the AFCON of surprises, but of hard work.

“The boys are on a mission and we will not give up under any circumstances.”

The Leopards emerged from Group F as runners-up having drawn all three of their games – against Zambia, Morocco and Tanzania – and needed keeper Lionel Mpasi to hold his nerve to convert the decisive spot-kick to seal an 8-7 penalty shoot-out victory over Egypt in the last 16.

Guinea have made it to the quarter-finals despite finishing only third in Group C behind Senegal and Cameroon, who have both since gone out of the competition.

Mohamed Bayo’s header in the eighth minute of stoppage time secured a 1-0 victory over 10-man Equatorial Guinea to book their place in the last eight and boost their hopes of a first semi-final berth since 2015.

Coach Kaba Diawara said: “We are ready for the battle, both mentally and physically. We entered this AFCON conditioned to play seven finals.

“If it comes to penalties, we will go for it.”

The sides have met in the tournament three times in the past, all at the group stage, and DR Congo are yet to taste victory, losing 2-1 in the last encounter in 2004.

The National Elephants could be boosted by the return of Werder Bremen’s former Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita and on-loan Stuttgart striker Serhou Guirassy from injury.