CAF Champions League: Mazembe, USM prepare for entertaining final

first_imgEven though USM Alger coach Miloud Hamdi said before his team’s home fixture against TP Mazembe in the first leg of the CAF Champions League final that they were capable of winning away from home, there is little to suggest that they will become the fourth Algerian team to lift the trophy, thereby earning the right to represent Africa at the FIFA Club World Cup later this year in Japan.Although Mohamed Seguer’s late goal left a glimmer of light in the 2-1 scoreline after Rainford Kalaba and Mbwana Samatta scored for the visitors in the first leg, history clearly favours TP Mazembe.The Congo DR side have not only won the show-piece event of African club football four times already, they also have a famous home record to ease any nerves.Since the competition started in 1965, the club, which started campaigning as TP Englebert, has played 77 matches at home. Of those, the Lubumbashi-based team have won an astonishing 59, drawing 15 and losing just three.The last time they lost at home w as in 2009, when they were beaten 2-0 by Sudanese club Al Hilal in the semi-finals. However, Les Corbeaux had already won the first leg 5-2 in Omdurman and were confident of advancing. Mazembe went on to win the competition, beating Nigerian club Heartland in the final. The defeat against Al Hilal brought an end to a 21-year undefeated run. In 1988 (when interestingly, Heartland made their only other appearance in the final), Mazembe lost 1-0 in Lubumbashi against Petro Atletico. This time though, the defeat was painful as it saw the Congo DR side crashing out, having already lost the first leg in Angola 2-1.USM, on the other hand, have not been the best travellers in this year’s competition – winning just once outside of their country, though they did win both away games against Algerian opposition in the group phase. However, that lone victory outside of Algeria came when it really mattered – in the semi-final at Al Hilal, when they won 2-1If overcoming a goal deficit and potentially the away goals on the road in Lubumbashi wasn’t hard enough, Alger and Hamdi will be without Youcef Belaili and Hocine El Orfi. Belaili has received a lengthy ban for doping, while El Orfi was sent off in the first leg in Algeria. Well-known USM official and former player Hadji Adlene remained upbeat though. “We did not play well in the first leg, but it is still possible to win the trophy. We have a good team, a team that has secured several good away results,” he said.For Ghanaians, key interest will be on how our quintet of Yaw Frimpong, Richard Kissi Boateng, Daniel Nii Adjei, Solomon Asante and Gladson Awako fare. Frimpong and Kissi Boateng started the 1st leg in Algiers.–Follow Joy Sports on Twitter: @Joy997FM. Our hashtag is #JoySportslast_img

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