Kevin Mondeko was part of the TP Mazembe squad that was eliminated by Esperance in the quarter finals of the 2018-19 CAF Champions League, and the memories of that painful defeat still linger in his mind.
And now, four years later, the two sides clash in the quarter finals of the inaugural edition of the African Super League, and Mondeko hopes they can exert revenge.
They lost 1-0 in Tunis and were held to a 0-0 draw in the return fixture in Kinshasa, to extinguish their dreams of a sixth African title.
“We remember very well that match and we are going to try and make our revenge. We want to make sure that history does not repeat itself,” Mondeko said, speaking on Saturday during the pre-match press conference.
The Congolese side say it is prepared to put in a good performance and ensure they have a good advantage ahead of the return tie.
Coach Lamin N’Diaye who has returned to the team this season, and having previously won silverware with the team, says they have prepared well and are ready for the difficult duel with Esperance.
“Esperance is a tough team and they showed that by reaching the semi-finals of the Champions League last season. Whenever we meet, it is always a big game and we are ready for an epic game. We are determined to take a good result for an easier match in the second leg,” said the Senegalese coach.
Mazembe struggled on the continent last season, being eliminated from qualifying to the group stages of the Champions League by Uganda’s Vipers and then picking only two points in the group stage of the Confederation Cup.
Skipper Mondeko said they have worked on their mentality and hence the reason they have started this season well.
“The problem was just our mind and we have worked to try and improve that. Last season was a bad season but now the mind is new. We have a new coach and we have been working very hard in training to make sure we are ready,” noted the skipper.
Mazembe will be playing Esperance for the ninth time. They have a slight disadvantage in head to head record as they have only won twice and lost three. The rest of the matches ended in draws.
Mazembe has not scored a goal against Esperance in their last four meetings. They are however confident they can turn the tide on Sunday.