Mazembe poised to reach Confed semis
Victory for the ‘Ravens’ over Algerian visitors Entente Setif Saturday would ensure a top-two finish in Group B of the second-tier club competition.
And the odds are in favour of the 2010 Fifa Club World Cup runners-up to Inter Milan after forcing a 1-1 draw at Setif last month.
“My immediate target is to win the Confederation Cup,” says France-born Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron.
He moved to southern Congolese mining city Lubumbashi, where Mazembe are based, after taking Mali to third place at the 2013 Africa Cup of Nations.
The former Sunderland defender is considered among the best young coaches on a continent where many of his compatriots have made a telling impact.
Mazembe boast a multi-national squad with Ghanaians, Malians, Tanzanians and Zambians bolstering local stars like playmaker and Captain Tresor Mputu.
Zambian Rainford Kalaba snatched the late match-winner at home to closest challengers CA Bizertin of Tunisia two weeks ago.
And Ghanaian Solomon Asante, Tanzanian Mbwana Samata and Malian Cheibane Traore scored in a 3-0 rout of Moroccans FUS Rabat.
But Mazembe have been less successful away with the draw at Setif followed by a defeat at Bizertin, whose only CAF title came 25 years ago.
Mazembe have won the CAF Champions League four times, the CAF Super Super twice and the now defunct African Cup Winners Cup once.
Setting their sights on the 2013 Champions League, Mazembe lost a qualifier to South Africans Orlando Pirates and were demoted to the Confederation Cup.
Setif have drawn three matches and lost one and only an unlikely away win would bring the 1988 African champions back into the reckoning.
Victory for Mazembe would also set up Bizertin for a place among the last four provided they defeated 2010 Confederation Cup winners FUS.
Having drawn 1-1 in Morocco last month, the Tunisians can be confident, although a two-goal return from four games is a concern.
Fellow Tunisians CS Sfaxien, the only club to win the nine-year Confederation Cup twice, clinched Group A two weeks ago.
The club from Mediterranean industrial city Sfax has won four consecutive games under coach and 1970s Dutch star Ruud Krol.
But who accompanies Sfaxien to the knockout stage is wide open with compatriots Etoile Sahel, Stade Malien of Mali and Saint George of Ethiopia in contention.
Etoile host Sfaxien in Sousse having lost the first encounter to a goal from consistent Ivorian scorer Idrissa Kouyate.
And Stade have home advantage over a Saints side containing many of the Ethiopia squad that is 180 minutes away from the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.