TP Mazembe took part in the experimental edition of the African Football League and despite their elimination in the quarter-finals, the Lubumbashi-based club are reaping the rewards of their participation in this competition.
With a young team, TP Mazembe continues to rebuild.
Eight prestigious clubs from the African continent have been chosen to take part in the experimental edition of the African Football League, including the DRC’s Tout Puissant Mazembe. Although it was known from the outset that this FIFA and CAF competition would be financially beneficial to the participating clubs, Tout Puissant Mazembe has reaped other benefits in addition to the financial ones.
In this competition of the highest calibre for the various protagonists, Tout Puissant Mazembe, a team still in the process of rebuilding, was eliminated in the first round by Tunisian club Espérance Sportive de Tunis. After a narrow 1-0 victory in the first leg in Dar Es Salaam, the black-and-white club from Lubumbashi suffered a heavy 3-0 defeat in Tunis in the return leg. But despite this early elimination, Tout Puissant Mazembe pocketed almost a million euros, a timely sum for the Lush club, which has accused the Congolese government of no longer providing financial support for its continental matches for several years now. This money will enable the club’s management to inject it into the team’s various projects, in order to achieve sufficient financial balance during the season between recruitment and other tasks.
Young players gain experience
Tout puissant Mazembe is a team in full reconstruction and progress since the arrival of Lamine Ndiaye on the bench. The Congolese club only recorded its first defeat of the season against Esperance de Tunis, after eight wins and a draw in nine matches in all competitions. But with a young squad featuring new recruits who had never reached the group phase of a CAF club competition, the African Football League was of vital importance for all these newcomers to gain experience.
“Starting a competition with a top-level club is very important for a team that is rebuilding and made up of young players. It gives you two matches at a very high level, allowing these inexperienced youngsters to gain experience. They’re playing in an electric atmosphere in front of very hot fans, and that’s very important for them,” said sports journalist Mons Monshenju.
Good preparation for the C1 group stage
TP Mazembe had not met a top continental club for over two years and with less than a month to go before their CAF Champions League group-stage opener, this African Football League double-header was a good rehearsal for the Lubumbashi Crows. Mazembe are in Group A alongside Mamelodi Sundows of South Africa, Pyramids of Egypt and Nouadhibou of Mauritania, and will have to fight hard to get through.
“It’s good for TP Mazembe to be back at the top level before facing Mamelodi Sundows and Pyramids of Egypt. We felt that the team was evolving, and in fact recorded its first victory outside the country in the CAF interclubs this season, after several years of inactivity. This African Football League has enabled the team to put itself in fighting order to get out of this tough group”, said sports journalist Richard Muganze.
Mazembe kick off the Champions League group phase on November 24 at Pyramids FC of Egypt.