HARARE – DR Congo giants TP Mazembe jetted in Harare yesterday looking more like a musical band on tour rather than a team arriving for an important African Champions League match.
The five-time African champions are in danger of being eliminated from the competition after they were restricted to a 1-1 draw by CAPS United in their own background in the first leg last weekend.
And yesterday the Moise Katumbi-owned side arrived in the country abroad a branded private jet with a strong delegation of 100 people that included their supporters and appeared absolutely relaxed ahead of the second leg at the National Sports Stadium tomorrow.
The Ravens’ arrival livened up the normally sleepy airport from the moment their plane touched down on the runway and taxied towards the terminal. Painted in inconspicuous black and white colours of Mazembe and emblazoned with the phrase “In God We Trust” on the sides, the McDonnell Douglas MD-83 plane captured the imagination of all the onlookers at the airport. Most of the visiting teams to Zimbabwe arrive on commercial flights but Mazembe are no ordinary continental side.
When the DRC side’s delegation finally made their way past immigration and customs it was clear they are here for serious business.
TP Mazembe coach Thierry Froger was also not short of confidence when he addressed the media through translator soon after the Ravens landed at Harare International Airport.
“It will be a difficult game but we are here to win,” Froger told reporters.
“They are playing at home and they will be motivated and determined but we are equally looking for a win as well.”
Since they grabbed an away goal in Lubumbashi last week, Makepekepe will qualify for the money-rich group stages if the second leg finishes goalless.
Mazembe are fully aware of this fact and soon after the first leg, Froger took his side to Futuka, a secluded country-side some 70km outside Lubumbashi, to start preparations for tomorrow’s game.
The Frenchman wanted total concentration from his players as they geared for the match against Makepekepe hence the decision to pluck them out of DRC’s second largest city where they are celebrities.
Froger was clearly disappointed with his side’s performance last weekend but was confident they can get a good result tomorrow.
“We have no choice in Harare, we have to win,” the Frenchman told the Mazembe website before they left Lubumbashi.
“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.
Meanwhile, CAPS United have roped in Suluman Chimbetu and the Zimbabwe Republic Police Band to provide entertainment before and after kick-off tomorrow.