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Preview: TP Mazembe, formidable at home, favourites to win African Champions League

Ahram Online , Saturday 7 Nov 2015
Mazembe
Mazembe defeated USM Alger 2-1 away from home in the first leg of the African Champions League final (Photo: AFP)
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TP Mazembe will be overwhelming favourites to win a fifth African Champions League title and qualify for the Club World Cup for the third time when they host USM Alger in Lubumbashi in the final second leg on Sunday.

The DR Congo outfit have one hand on the prestigious trophy after producing a vivid attacking display to claim a 2-1 first-leg victory at USM Alger last month, silencing an enthusiastic crowd who were disappointed to see their side completely outplayed.

Rainford Kalaba, who was later sent off, and Mbwana Samatta scored either side of the interval before a late goal from substitute Mohamed Seguer gave USM Alger a glimmer of hope.

But the Algerians will need to cause a huge upset if they are to overturn the deficit. Claiming any victory in Lubumbashi is a daunting task let alone by a two-goal margin.

Out of the 77 matches Mazembe have played at home since the inauguration of Africa's premier club competition in 1965, they have only lost three games, the last of which was in 2009.

However, the four-time African champions are not taking anything for granted.

"We know the quality of USM, who have probably the best team in the competition. They have done well away from home, but they could surprise us," Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron said.

"Furthermore, Algerians are known for their pride, which allows them to rise above themselves in difficult situations. For that alone I think that we should take the return leg very seriously. That said, I remain optimistic because we too, have a good team, with fast and efficient players."

Mazembe are also eyeing a place at the Club World Cup in December, having been Africa's best representatives in the competition.

In 2010, Mazembe became the first African side to reach the final before losing 3-0 to winners Inter Milan.

USM Alger have never won an African competition.

Mazembe will miss Kalaba because of his red card and defender Jean Kasusula due to injury.

(For more sports news and updates, follow Ahram Online Sports on Twitter at @AO_Sports and on Facebook at AhramOnlineSports.)

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