Ravens hoping to spring an upset against Red Eagles

Ravens hoping to spring an upset against Red Eagles
TP Mazembe head coach Lamine N'Diaye during the CAF Champions League 2023/24. ©Ampe Rogerio/BackpagePix

by Staff Reporter

Thursday Apr 18, 2024. 13:02

TP Mazembe head coach Lamine N’Diaye has called on his team to raise their game when they host Al Ahly in the first leg of the CAF Champions League semi-finals at the Stade TP Mazembe on Saturday.

Kick-off is at 3pm CAT (SA, GMT+2)

The Ravens are making their first appearance in the last four of Africa’s elite competition since 2018-19 after beating Stade Petro de Luanda 2-1 on aggregate in the quarter-finals.

N’Diaye’s side have impressed on the continent this season, conceding just three goals in their 10 matches, while suffering just two defeats along the way.

The DR Congo giants, who won the last of their five titles in 2015, have shown they can go toe-to-toe with Africa’s best after pulling off a famous 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns on home soil in the group stages.

Diaye admits the defending champions are formidable opponents, but is convinced his players can overcome this great obstacle if they bring their A-game.

“We need to be at our best,” he told CAFOnline in an exclusive interview. “We have great respect for Al Ahly, who are the most successful team on the continent.

“When they arrive at this level of competition, they are formidable, even more formidable than at the start of the competition. We expect a very difficult match.

“However, we have every chance. We will have to be good in both matches in order to make it to the final.”

Al Ahly are determined to make up for their African Football League disappointment after bowing out to Sundowns in the semi-finals.

Marcel Koller’s side have hardly put a foot wrong in the Champions League this term and remain undefeated after 10 games, shipping just one goal in the process.

The record 11-time African champions have kept six clean sheets in a row after they saw off the challenge of Simba in the last eight with a 3-0 win on aggregate.

However, they come into the clash on the back of a 2-1 defeat to arch-rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian Premier League on Monday and Koller came under fire for his line-up selection.

The Swiss tactician defended his decision, saying: “We didn’t start the game with the wrong formation. If I make early substitutions, you complain and if I make late ones, you also complain.

“I think we were in control for the first 25 minutes, then we allowed Zamalek to get back in the game because of naive mistakes.

“We conceded a goal at the end of the first half and in the second were the better side but Zamalek scored the winning goal from an unorganised move.”

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