Coming into the first edition of the African Football League (AFL) T.P Mazembe was clearly one of the favorites but a first round elimination failed to confirm their status as one of the top clubs on the continent.
The Lubumbashi based side lost to Esperance de Tunis and by a huge margin. Despite winning the first leg 1-0 at Benjamin Mkapa Stadium in Dar Es Salaam, they were humiliated 3-0 in the return match in Rades.
Granted, T.P Mazembe despite their five time CAF Champions League trophies were playing a formidable opponent in Esperance who had had a near perfect start to the season at home.
Furthermore, the Tunisian club has never been an easy customer for TP Mazembe who had only won it twice in the last eight meetings between the two teams, before this new reunion in the AFL.
On the pitch, the Congolese team was not very convincing in the game, especially in the return match where they were out-played in all departments.
“The management of the second leg was not good. You win the first leg with a bit of luck but curiously, the same mistakes were repeated in the second leg. The players were not focused and not calm at all. It was really surprising and the team didn’t give the serenity it had since the start of the season,” Congolese sports journalist Michel Tobo captured Mazembe’s failure.
The other significant factor that may have affected the Congolese giants is the fact that they were deprived of hosting their quarter-final match against Esperance de Tunis in their backyard. of Lubumbashi.
The Confederation of African Football (CAF) was forced to relocate the match to Dar Es Salaam due to logistical reasons.
The decision made at the last minute was likely to destabilize the squad who were also counting on the support of the fans to shine in this competition.
In any case, the page of this disillusionment seems to have been turned very quickly by the club who are now focused on the Congolese championship where they remain unbeaten in 10 matches (7 wins, 3 draws and 0 defeats), pending the start of the group stage of the CAF TotalEnergies Champions League scheduled for next week. The Lush-based club will travel to Egypt’s Pyramids FC on November 24, 2023 for the first matchday in Group A.