Today is the big day as Africa will come to a standstill when, TP Mazembe look to defend their Caf Confederation Cup title against SuperSport United in what promises to be an epic final in Lubumbashi.
The two clubs have met each other before in the group stages and the honours were even, but both camps admit that this match is a different ball game altogether. Kickoff is at 3pm and the match will be live on SS4 HD.
With the Congo season having only kicked off last week, Mazembe stayed in Morocco after winning their semifinal match against Rabat to kickstart their preparations for the final.
Upon their return to Congo in the build-up to Sunday they left the city for a training camp in Futuka, about 30km away from their usual scenes to intensify their preparations. The coach believes it could just be a masterstroke.
“In terms of preparations everything has been going well so far and I have all my players except for Salif Coulibaly who is injured, so he is the only one who is absent. All the other players are ready and motivated to play tomorrow’s match,” said the Mazembe coach, Pham Phile Mihayo.
“I think we have all that’s necessary for us to win. Basically it’s the same team besides two or three players that we have added. It’s the same that won this tournament last year and we believe we can win it again this year,” added Mihayo.
Meanwhile, SuperSport United will be without their key quartet of Thabo Mnyamane and Teboho Mokoena, who are both injured, while Reneilwe Letsholonyane and Morgan Gould are suspended but will be back for the return leg in Pretoria.
Matsantsantsa coach Eric Tinkler is confident that with the experience he has gathered at this level as a coach and the squad of players at his disposal he can finally break that continental title duck.
Tinkler has been to two Caf club championships cup finals with Orlando Pirates where they lost to Al Ahly in the Caf Champions League and ES Sahel in the Confed Cup final, but will it be third time lucky for him this time?
“We are well aware that we are coming up against a very experienced team in TP Mazembe. This is a club that has been in 11 cup finals, be it in Champions League or Confederation Cup. But I think at the moment they are not as strong as they used to be if you go back two or three years ago when they were a much stronger team,” said Tinkler.
“But like I said, we are backing ourselves. We have a lot belief and faith in ourselves. I believe I have a great team. I believe I have players that want to achieve and win things and obviously it needs to start tomorrow. We have to go into that game not fearing the opposition, that’s very important and yes we need to respect their position and what they have achieved. We will go into that game with a lot of discipline tactically but mentally we need to be strong,” added the United coach.
The two teams will face each other in the second leg at the Lucas Moripe Stadium next Saturday night.