The Stade des Martyrs is the national stadium of the Democratic Republic of Congo, located in the town of Lingwala in Kinshasa which happens to be the capital of the country. The stadium is mainly used for hosting football matches. With a capacity of 80,000, it happens to be the third largest stadium of Africa.
The stadium is the home ground of AS Vita Club and DC Motema Pembe. The national football team of Democratic Republic of Congo plays their home games at the Stade des Martyrs.
The national stadium was constructed in a little under six years with the ground-breaking ceremony being held on 14th October 1988 and the inaugural match being held on 14th September 1994.
The project cost an estimated $38 million which equates to around $60 million adjusted to inflation in 2015. The project was mostly financed by the Chinese government who formed a memorandum of understanding with the Republic of Zaire on 13th May 1987. It replaced the Stade Tata Raphael as the national stadium of the country.
The stadium was originally named as the Kamanyola Stadium. It is regarded as one of the crowning glories of the often regarded as, controversial regime of Zaire.
The stadium was renamed to Stade des Martyrs de la Pentecote, after the leader of Zaire, Mobutu, was forced to flee from the country in 1997. The renaming was done to honour the four men who were hanged on June 1996 on the stadium background for defying the Mobutu Government.
After a recommendation made by FIFA in 2008, the Democratic Republic of Congo Government spent $15 million for renovating the stadium to current international standards. As a result, synthetic grass was added to the stadium.
The inaugural match held at the Stade des Martyrs was a friendly between the Leopards of Zaire and the Malawi football team after the Africa Cup of Nations had opposed them. The game finished 1-1.
On 5th December 2004, the Democratic Republic of Congo earned their first victory over South Africa in a historic match at the Stade des Martyrs. Kadamba Musasa and Biscot Mbala came off the bench to inspire them to a 1-0 win over Bafana Bafana in the Group B 2006 FIFA World Cup Africa Qualifier game.
In 1998, during a football match between Vita Club and Motema Pembe at the Stade des Martyrs in Kinshasa, the government troops opened fire. Four people died as a result of the firing.
Among the recent matches held at the Stade des Martyrs include the 2018 FIFA World Cup Qualifiers hosted by the Democratic Republic of Congo. After the match against Burundi was forfeited and the home team won by an automatic 3-0 margin at the Stade des Martyrs, the Democratic Republic of Congo were drawn in Group A.
The home team won the first game held at the stadium against Tunisia convincingly by a 4-0 margin. Former Norwich City striker Dieumerci Mbokani scored a brace for the Leopards.
In the second match held at the stadium, Democratic Republic of Republic let go off a two-goal lead to draw a game against impressive Tunisia 2-2. Newcastle United defender, Chancel Mbemba and Paul Mpoku scored for the home team before the Tunisians rescued a point from the game.
In the last group stage game, Democratic Republic of Congo beat Guinea 3-1 at the Stade des Martyrs to finish the group stage with 13 points behind Tunisia and thus fell short of 2018 FIFA World Cup qualification.