Although Mohamed Seguer's late goal left a glimmer of light in the 2-1 scoreline after Rainford Kalaba and Mbwana Samatta scored for the visitors in the first leg, history clearly favours TP Mazembe. The Congo DR side have not only won the show-piece event of African club football four times already, they also have a famous home record to ease any nerves.
The defeat against Al Hilal brought an end to a 21-year undefeated run. In 1988 (when interestingly, Heartland made their only other appearance in the final), Mazembe lost 1-0 in Lubumbashi against Petro Atletico. This time though, the defeat was painful as it saw the Congo DR side crashing out, having already lost the first leg in Angola 2-1.
USM, on the other hand, have not been the best travellers in this year's competition – winning just once outside of their country, though they did win both away games against Algerian opposition in the group phase. However, that lone victory outside of Algeria came when it really mattered – in the semi-final at Al Hilal, when they won 2-1
If overcoming a goal deficit and potentially the away goals on the road in Lubumbashi wasn't hard enough, Alger and Hamdi will be without Youcef Belaili and Hocine El Orfi. Belaili has received a lengthy ban for doping, while El Orfi was sent off in the first leg in Algeria. Well-known USM official and former player Hadji Adlene remained upbeat though. “We did not play well in the first leg, but it is still possible to win the trophy. We have a good team, a team that has secured several good away results,” he said.
Prepared to attack
Mazembe coach Patrice Carteron shares Adlene's view that the tie is not yet decided. “We know the quality of USM, who have probably the best team in the competition. They have done well away from home, but they could surprise us. Furthermore, Algerians are known for their pride, which allows them to rise above themselves in difficult situations. For that alone I think that we should take the return leg very seriously. That said, I remain optimistic because we too, have a good team, with fast and efficient players."
Beyond that, Carteron promised fans an attacking match. “Having won away, we have several options, but we will still play offensively in the second leg. Our fans love the beautiful game and we will try to make them happy. Really though, we have no choice because our team can not play any other way than forward.”
The French boss will also be without the services of two players. Zambian goal-scorer Kalaba was red carded for an off-the-ball incident just before the break in the first leg, while Jean Kasusula broke his arm in a scooter accident on Sunday after returning from Algeria. The defender will be out for several weeks.
One player who will be available though, is Joel Kimwaki about whom media in the Congo DR erroneously said that he would be suspended after picking up a yellow card in the first leg. The competition's regulations though state that players start with a clean slate after the group phase, thus leaving the club captain available for Sunday's match.
Mazembe's win in Algeria was the teams' first victory in six outings in Algeria. It was also only the second time they won away from home in this years' competition.
Mazembe's Ghanaian midfielder Daniel Nii Adjei has also warned his team-mates ahead of the second leg. “It is not yet a done deal. We have won one but anything can happen in the second leg. They can come here to Lubumbashi and surprise us. We have to prepare well to beat them and win the cup.”