Africa: TP Mazembe retains CAF Cup

Rainford Kalaba receives trophy @Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

A gutsy performance in the return leg of the Total CAF Confederation Cup final saw Democratic Republic of Congo’s TP Mazembe defend its title against South African side Supersport United on Saturday at a cold and wet Lucas Moripe Stadium in Pretoria, South Africa.

‘Les Corbeaux’ came into the fixture with a narrow 2-1 lead and succeeded to successfully defend their title with an entertaining barren draw against a determined Supersport United side who were hoping to emulate their cross-town rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in winning a continental competition.

Surprisingly it was Mazembe who started off like a house on fire, putting the homers on the back foot from the onset.

Zambian-import Nathan Sankala was the first to ask questions of keeper, Ronwen Williams as early as the sixth minute after a good lay off from compatriot and captain, Rainford Kalaba but the latter’s shot went over the bar.

Few minutes later, Kalaba was presented with a golden opportunity to grab the opener after doing well to beat the offside trap but with just the advancing Williams to beat, Kalaba disappointingly blasted his effort off target to the relief of the hosts.

Another good opportunity came for the holders in the 13th minute after ‘Matsatsantsa’ were almost caught by the quick break off the visitors which resulted in a good lay off in the box for the oncoming Daniel Adjei who’s effort went agonisingly wide off goal with Williams well beaten.

The hosts almost grabbed the lead with their only chance in the opening half when Tefu Mashamaite did well to connect with a Thuso Phala cross but his header was ruled off side.

Coming back from the break, the homers looked more organised and able to contain the threat of Kalaba, Adjei Ben Malongo but still found it difficult breaking the stubborn defence of Mazembe.

It was only at the hour mark that Supersport got a chance at goal with young defender, Aubrey Modiba connecting well with a through ball from Letsholonyane but failed to hit the target.

With the away lead to their advantage, Mazembe opted to be a bit more cautious towards the closing stages with the hope of catching United on the break.

Malongo came close to finding the back of the net in the 68st minute with a wonderful strike from outside the box which was saved by the keeper.

Togolese substitute, Dove Wome should have given his side the much-needed goal in the 71st minute after a great first touch from a Grant Kekana cross but sent his effort straight at the keeper.

Even with the sending off of Kabaso Chongo for a reckless tackle on Phala, United failed to break the Mazembe defense as the encounter ended in a thrilling 0-0 stalemate which saw the Congolese side defend their title.

It was all celebrations for Mazembe as captain Kalaba lifted the trophy amidst cheers from his colleagues. The Congolese were $1,250,000 richer whilst Supersport pocketed $625,000.