International goalkeeper Robert Kidiaba has managed to keep Cote d'Ivoire goalkeeper Sylvain Gbohouo on the subs bench at TP Mazembe, and the 39-year-old has two CAF Champions League medals under his belt – won in 2009 and 2010. Also on that team looking for a hat-trick of continental titles is Mazembe's Zambian international Given Singuluma.
Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron will be without defender Yaw Frimpong and midfield duo, Merveille Bope and Rainford Kalaba as the three are suspended for the game against the Egyptians. “In all competitions, these are things that can happen,” Carteron said, adding that he had been impressed with the form of Nathan Sinkala, who returned to the club after loan spells in Europe. “He has been excellent. It will offset the suspension of Merveille [Bope]. The balance of the team is good and we have to continue on from here.”
The Lubumbashi-based club are on five points – behind Sudanese giants Al Hilal, who face Moroccan club Maghreb Tetouan at home. Hilal also have five points, but lead on the number of goals scored. Smouha and Tetouan have three and two points respectively and need to start winning matches if they want to stay in contention.
Algerian party crashed?
In Group B, Algerian clubs are surprisingly not finding it all going their way. When USM Algiers, title holders ES Setif and El Eulma were drawn into the same group, many football fans were expecting the three teams to decide the two semi-finalists between them.
But it is obviously something that was not conveyed to Al Mereikh, as the Sudanese club are currently second with four points, ahead of ES Setif on goal difference. The title holders are travelling to Ondurman, knowing that a defeat will all but kill their chances of keeping alive their hopes of repeating. In the other match second division club El Eulma, who have yet to secure a point, are at home to USM, who have not yet dropped a point.
Setif striker Mohamed Benyettou is confident that they can produce the goods in Sudan. The team arrived well in advance to leave nothing to chance. "We arrived in good condition and are ready to meet the expectations of the coaching staff. It will be a difficult game against a good team, who held us in check in the first leg. We will go to Sudan to win and boost our chances of advancing. It will be difficult but we will return with a victory. The pressure will be on them and there are still nine points at stake. We will do our utmost to achieve our goal.”
El Eulma, who were relegated from the Algerian first division a few weeks ago, have been playing well in the Champions League but disappointingly have nothing to show for it. They were beaten by their Algerian rivals by just a single goal and face USM at home on the weekend, hoping to finally win their first point in the group stage.
The winner of the competition will represent the continent at the FIFA Club World Cup in Japan at the end of the year.