TP Mazembe begin Quest for Sixth African League against First-timers
TP Mazembe will begin their quest to win their sixth CAF Champions League on Friday when they face hosts Amazulu at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban, South Africa.
The Democratic Republic of Congo giants have won the African title five times, in 1967, 1968, 2009, 2010 and 2015.
Franck Dumas’ coached outfit wants to erase from memory the debacle of the past season when they were eliminated in the group stage.
The Ravens finished the DR Congo league campaign as runners-up to AS Vita who reclaimed the title they last won in 2015.
TP Mazembe midfielder Soze Zemanga said they are ready for the mission to conquer Africa for sixth time and are forced to deal with Amazulu at the start.
“We are well prepared and motivated to go past Amazulu. We hope to win this match to start the competition positive note. This kind of match gives all the players great exposure on what lies ahead. It’s up to us to be serious in order to achieve our objective, that of qualifying to group stage,” said Zemanga as translated from French.
“All is not won in advance, you have to be serious in both games to pass. We have great respect for our opponent and we are ready for this battle. Amazulu is a team to be taken very seriously because they know how to handle the ball and aren’t there by chance.”
Amazulu, on the other hand, made the Champions League debut in 2021/22 edition having finished as runners-up to Mamelodi Sundowns in South Africa’s top-flight DStv Premiership last season.
Usuthu went over the first hurdle by overcoming a 1-0 home defeat to Bullets before clawing their way back in the return match to win 3-2 on aggregate after a 3-1 score in Lilongwe.
Amazulu coach Benni McCarthy is well aware of the challenge and has assured fans that his charges get a positive result in Durban before they embark on the away trip to Lubumbashi.
“We just have to make sure that the home game is a positive one and it’s one that will give us something to go to DRC with … something worth fighting for,” McCarthy said as quoted by Sowetan Live.
“We can’t make another slip-up like we did against Nyasa Bullets, where our home game was not so good and then we had to go all the way to [Malawi] do the impossible. But I think this time around we’ve tried to learn from our mistakes and we’re going to try to make home advantage count.”