It’s only the start of the season but TP Mazembe are already in a hurry to salvage their campaign following an early disappointment and must now recover through the TotalEnergies Confederation Cup.
Five-time winners of the TotalEnergies Champions League from DR Congo only dream of playing in the continental top-flight competition every season but for the past two seasons things have gone awry for the DR Congo side.
Last season the Ravens had to play in the second tier club competition following their elimination by Amazulu of South Africa and this season the situation has repeated itself.
Exempted from the first preliminary round of the Champions League, the Lubumbashi club entered the race in the second round against Vipers of Uganda. After the goalless draw in the first-leg, the supporters were confident of qualification to the group phase.
But at the Temple of the Bandiagwenas, the Ugandans played well and took their opponent to penalties after the second-leg match also ended goalless.
Mazembe were subsequently eliminated 4-2 on penalties, prompting President Moïse Katumbi to sack French coach Franck Dumas after just one year in charge.
A former member of the house has now been brought back to help steer the club in the right direction. Ex-club defender Pamphile Mihayo has been appointed until the end of the season for a third stint as Ravens coach.
“To succeed, we need discipline. We must all work in the spirit of unity and honesty. We were not good because we failed to qualify. Let’s get down to work seriously to save the season and prepare for next season,” said the new Ravens boss.
TP Mazembe players celebrates a victory during the 2021 CAF Confederation Cup match between Marumo Gallants and TP Mazembe at Peter Mokaba Stadium, Polokwane on 05 December 2021 (2)
Mihayo must restore the confidence of the team that was badly affected by the elimination by Vipers and find the path to success.
“The group took this elimination very badly. Mazembe’s goal every season is to play the leading roles in the Champions League, but it hasn’t gone as planned,” said Togolese defender Youssifou Atte, who joined the club last July.
“After the match against Vipers, the president very quickly called the whole team and gave us a frank speech. Above all, he asked us to forget what happened and focus on future games. Now we have to get to the group stage of the Confederation Cup. This is also the message sent by the new coach, ”added Atte.
To forget the Vipers setback, Mazembe played its first league match last Wednesday before thinking about the first match of the TotalEnergies Confederation Cup. A 3-0 victory against the US Panda seems to have healed the wounds.
For the next important matches, the Ravens will host Royal AM FC of South Africa on November 2 in Lubumbashi with the return leg scheduled for a week later.
A season without African competition for Mazembe is a disaster. A qualification to the group phase of the TotalEnergies Confederation Cup would save the season.