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CAF Champions League: TP Mazembe Aim to Wreck Esperance in Rades

Esperance de Tunis and TP Mazembe will tussle for a first-leg advantage when they go head-to-head in Tunisia this Saturday.

Esperance de Tunis and TP Mazembe will tussle for a first-leg advantage when they go head-to-head in Tunisia this Saturday.

The Blood and Gold host the Ravens in a first-leg 2018/2019 CAF Champions League semi-final clash at the Olympic Stadium in Rades. Kick-off is at 18h00 Central African Time (CAT).

With a place in the final at stake, both Esperance and Mazembe will go all out for victory ahead of the second-leg tie in Lubumbashi next weekend.

For Mazembe the clash will be of particular significance as they aim to end their African Champions League title drought, having been last crowned champions in 2015.

On their side, Esperance will be aiming to retain the crown, an indication they have shown with an outstanding performance this season, as they are yet to lose any match in the campaign.

At the quarter-finals, the Tunisians easily edged past Algeria’s CS Constantine 6-3 on aggregate with Mazembe beating Simba of Tanzania by a solitary goal after being held to a goalless draw in the first leg played in Dar es Salaam.

TP Mazembe’s veteran striker Patou Kabangu is not new in Rades as he was part of the Congolese team squad that emphatically beat Esperance 6-1 on aggregate to win the 2010 title.

Kabangu has cushioned his teammates that the mission will not be easy but they should be optimistic of pulling a win so as to make their quest for the trophy easier when both teams face each other in the return leg.

“In front of Esperance in Rades this Saturday, it would be enough to have the mind that we had in 2010 so as to make the difference. It will not be easy, I know it. Like all players who have made this trip, I am very motivated to play Esperance, I only think about the game.”

Esperance will be relying on the midfield trio of Fousseny Coulibaly, Franck Kom and Ghaylen Chaalali to provide the ball to the attacking duo of Belaili and Tunisia international Taha Yassine Khenissi for goals.

Mouine Chaabani’s coached side will be missing the services of Anice Badri, Mohamed Yacoubi and Nigerian forward Junior Lokosa, who are on the treatment table with injuries.

Gambian referee Bakary Gassama will be in charge of the match between Esperance and TP Mazembe.

The aggregate winners will face either South Africa’s Mamelodi Sundowns or Moroccan club Wydad Casablanca in the final late next month.

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