TP Mazembe aims to lift Confederation Cup

The Democratic Republic of Congo club, TP Mazembe is determined to win their first African Confederation Cup title on Sunday.

Mazembe are favourites going into the finale in Lubumbashi after forcing a 1-1 draw at Mouloudia Bejaia of Algeria last weekend in the first leg of the final.

Victory will make Mazembe the second most successful club in African competitions with 10 triumphs, behind Egypt’s Al Ahly who boast 19 titles.

Bejaia, promoted to top-flight Algerian football only three years ago, are African debutants and are hoping to become the first Algerian winners of Africa’s second-tier club competition.

Leading scorer and captain of TP Mazembe, Rainford Kalaba has been in outstanding form at the 20,000-capacity Stade TP Mazembe in the heart of the southern Congolese mining region with five goals from three African outings.

Congolese Jonathan Bolingi could be another threat to Bejaia with his four goals this season including one from the penalty-spot which gave Mazembe the lead in Algeria.

Bejaia captain Faouzi Yaya equalised after half-time from another set-piece, a medium-distance free-kick that left goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo helpless.

Mouloudia coach and former Algeria defender Nacer Sandjak believes the outcome remains in the balance.

“My team has been written off so many times this season in the Confederation Cup and repeatedly confounded the critics.

“A good example of our amazing spirit was eliminating FUS Rabat in the semi-finals despite trailing with one minute of regular time remaining in Morocco.”

France-born Mazembe coach, Hubert Velud remains uncomfortable with being favourites to win an Africa competition for the second successive season by beating an Algerian club.

Last year, Mazembe defeated USM Alger 2-1 away and 2-0 at home in a one-sided African Champions League final under another French coach, Patrice Carteron.

A score draw in Algeria was a good result, but we remain wary of Bejaia because they are a good, strong side,” stressed the 57-year-old former goalkeeper.

“The stakes are high and I have warned my squad that one mistake by either team could prove decisive. The fact that we are more experienced than Bejaia counts for little.”

Ivory Coast-born Mazembe midfielder, Christian Kouame echoed the views of his coach in the Congolese media.

“The bigger test was in Algeria, but there is no room for complacency. Mouloudia created many problems for us in the first leg and could do so again.”

 

 

Aisha JM