Wednesday Nov 04, 2015. 11:37
TP Mazembe are eyeing a fifth African crown when they host USM Alger in Lubumbashi on Sunday, in the return leg of their 2015 CAF Champions League final tie.
The DR Congo giants are closing in on their first continental trophy since their back-to-back triumphs in 2009 and 2010 in Africa’s most prestigious club competition, after securing a crucial 2-1 win on the road in the first leg.
Goals from Rainford Kalaba and Mbwana Samatta either side of half-time proved enough to hand the visitors the win in Bologhine, at the end of a drama-packed encounter that saw both sides reduced to ten men after Kalaba and El Orfi were sent off.
And while Mohamed Seguer managed to pull a goal back for the Algerians two minutes from time, USMA are left with a huge mountain to climb ahead of their trip to Katanga.
Coach Miloud Hamdi will have to cope with the absence of several key players, including skipper Nacereddine Khoualed, right-back Rabie Meftah and defensive midfielder Hocine El Orfi, all three suspended, as well as injured Oussama Derfalou.
And the Algerian tactician is also sweating over the fitness of defender Chakib Mazari and attacking midfielder Kaddour Beldjilali, both injured in the first leg.
However, the ‘Red and Black’ have not given up on their chances of turning things around in Lubumbashi.
“Football is not an exact science, and matches like these come down to small details,” USMA forward Rachid Nadji told competition.dz
“I personally really believe in our chances. There are 90 minutes remaining and everything is still possible.
“We must not give up. We will fight in Congo and do everything to bring the trophy back home.”
Meanwhile, hot favourites Mazembe can rely on a full-strength squad with the exception of suspended Rainford Kalaba, who received a straight red card in the first leg for an off the ball incident, and injured Jean Kasusula.
But French manager Patrice Carteron remains very cautious ahead of the clash, and warns against underestimating their opponents.
“We are going to host an Algerian side with a lot of character, and I know we will face a difficult opponent on Sunday
,” Carteron highlighted.
“We are going to study them thoroughly so we can neutralise them as we did on Saturday
“We will be wary of this team as they are travelling very well. It is why I remain extremely cautious.”
The game will kick off at Stade TP Mazembe at 15h30
CAT on Sunday 8 November.