HARARE – Stung by their failure to beat CAPS United in Sunday’s African Champions League qualifier in Lubumbashi, TP Mazembe have vowed to correct their mistakes in Harare this coming weekend.
The first leg finished 1-1 after Abbas Amidu opened the scoring for the Zimbabwean champions with only 44 seconds on the clock while Mazembe equalised in the 12th minute through Rainford Kalaba.
Although he was at fault for Kalaba’s equaliser, Makepekepe goalkeeper Edmore Sibanda went on to make a number of crucial saves throughout the match as the home side pressed for a winning goal.
There were some spells during the match when it seemed Makepekepe would crumble under the relenting pressure from the home side but they simply held on.
On the occasions the Mazembe forwards penetrated the United defence, they found a stumbling block in Sibanda.
The DR Congo champions were expected to steamroll past CAPS United but Lloyd Chitembwe’s side held their own against one of Africa’s biggest teams.
New Mazembe coach Thierry Froger, who was only appointed last month, is now under pressure to secure his side’s passage to the group stages of the competition.
If the Ravens fail to beat Makepekepe on Sunday at the National Sports Stadium, they will for the second year running be missing from the group stages of Africa’s premier inter-club competition.
Mazembe, who are five-time African champions, pride themselves with their exploits in this competition and rest assured they are coming to Harare for the kill.
It would be foolish for Makepekepe to sit on their laurels and think they have already qualified for the group stages since they are at home in the second leg.
Only 50 percent of the task is complete and CAPS need to double the effort they put in Lubumbashi if they are to qualify for the group stages.
Mazembe are coming to Harare with full force on Sunday and they will mean business judging by Froger’s comments on the club’s website yesterday.
“When the team has a bad result, it’s everyone’s responsibility. Obviously, I have my share of responsibility. We have no choice in Harare, we have to win,” the Frenchman told the Mazembe website.
“We must focus our preparation on the desire to raise our level of play. Even if we lost players, even if we made a preparation too short, we must redouble our efforts to present ourselves for the return game with a lot of ambition.
“The players who will appear on the field in Harare must prove that they have the level to play for TP Mazembe, it was not the case for all last Sunday.
“In Lubumbashi, it was believed that it would be easy simply by appearing with our fans to make a difference.
“It does not exist anymore, in the world, and Barcelona-PSG is an illustration of what can happen in football. In Harare, the solution to reach the group stages will be first of all to have the will to score.”
In the build up to the game against CAPS, Froger sent away senior defenders Joel Kimwaki and Jean Kasusula from training after they arrived late for training only to return after paying fines and apologising.
However, the strict Froger dropped them to the bench for the first leg while choosing to start with novices Kevin Mondeko and Arsene Zola in defence.
The two defenders are both inexperienced and both aged only 21 and were recently promoted to the first team from the Ravens’ academy.
“They (Kimwaki and Kasusula) acknowledged it and apologised to the group afterwards. Then the young players showed qualities and deserved to be in the starting team,” Froger said.
“By dismissing the senior players, I did not say that I no longer need these two players. I just need exemplary behaviour.
“I was surprised to hear some remarks and I ask in return, ‘Why have two training centres and not have these young players play in the professional team?’
“Today, supporters must accept the fact that we are also preparing the future of this team. It is neither the young players nor their elder players who are to blame after this draw; it is just the state of mind. During any preparation, the players must respect the schedules, the rules of life and must be available. Those who do not will not play.”