DR Congo giants TP Mazembe will launch an appeal against the decision of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to kick them out of the Champions League for fielding an ineligible player.
The four-time African champions – who won the past two titles – described the decision as an “incredible situation, but it also gives an official answer to all who suspected that CAF was protecting TP Mazembe.”
Mazembe were found guilty of fraud by the African governing body on Saturday after using Janvier Bokungu - who has illegitimately breached his contract with Tunisian side Esperance - during their tie against Tanzanian side Simba in round of 32.
CAF consequently decided at a meeting in Cairo to expel TP Mazembe and hold a play-off match between Simba and Wydad Casablanca next week in a neutral venue to determine who would replace the 10-time Congo champions in the group stage.
“The board sees the decision as totally inacceptable and the club is going to appeal immediately. The club’s manager Frederic Kitengie is actually in Cairo and will take all the necessary measures to defend the club’s rights and prove its good faith,” a statement read on Mazembe's official website.
Mazembe, who became the first African side to reach the World club Cup final in 2010, were on course for an unprecedented third straight Champions League triumph.
“We want to assure our supporters that the case is far from over. TP Mazembe will use all its legal and legitimate rights in its defence,” the statement concluded.