Now in charge of Sudanese giants El Merreikh, the 65-year old will come face-to-face with Mazembe at the semi-final of the CAF Champions League in the first leg on Saturday, 26 September 2015 in Omdurman.
Cafonline.com: What is the feeling of coming up against your former club, TP Mazembe?
Diego Garzitto: I had two stints with TP Mazembe, the first from 2003-2004, and later 2008-2010. It was a youthful team during both spells. Some of the players are no longer with the team such as Tresor Mputu Mabi, Mulota Kabangu and Bedi Mbenza. The likes of Jean Kasusula, Muteba Kidiaba and Given Singuluma are still around. I have good memories of my Mazembe days. Now I’m with El Merreikh and I have goals I desire to achieve with them. Mazembe has experienced changes over the years but not in the best direction. They are not the same strong team they used to be. I know their weak and strong points. In spite of the quality of players, they are not in harmony. I cannot deny the fact that I have waited five years for this moment.
What kind of results are you expecting from the game?
Personally, winning by one or two goals would be a good result and if we are able to win 3-0, it would be the perfect result. I don't preview matches from only one angle. My strategy is to attack in both home and away matches, like we did against Esperance (Tunisia) and Kabuscorp (Angola) at the knockout stages. We have a strong attack with the likes of Bakri ‘Al Medina’ Babiker, Didier Lebri and Francis Coffie, who have the ability to score in Omdurman and DR Congo. There is nothing to worry about.
There were concerns over the fitness of Bakri Al Medina. What is his situation and that of the team in general?
Bakri is ready for the match. He underwent a short therapy in Dubai and has been passed fit to play. The only unavailable player is young midfielder Sharaf El Shaiboub, who is out with a knee injury. But I have good replacements in Ayman Said and Omar Bakhit.
You are oozing so much confidence. What is the motivation?
We have been working since the beginning of the year. El Merreikh has developed over time. We lost of our first match 2-0 against Azam of Tanzania, and ever since we have never looked back in the Orange CAF Champions League. Conceptions about the team have since changed. The players are united to work for the team. Also, we have a huge support base, which have served a major source of inspiration especially in our home matches. We are yet to lose in our last six home matches, with no goal conceded. This is a wonderful record.
Describe the atmosphere in your camp ahead of the match?
We have been in a preparatory camp for a week. All the players are concentrated and know their role in the upcoming match. The players have developed a winning mentality for all matches. We are working hard to achieve our goals. El Merreikh is in one of its best conditions ever. We will exploit the weak points in Mazembe to win the match.
Are you looking forward to your second CAF Champions League trophy?
I won the title in 2009 and left Mazembe in the middle of the 2010 season. So I played a role in Mazembe winning the title again in 2010, and I think I deserve some credit for that feat. Now I’m looking forward to winning the title for another time and I believe I have the tools to achieve that, but we have to deal with each match separately. We will see what happens after Saturday’s match.
Saturday, 26 September 2015
El Merreikh (Sudan) vs TP Mazembe (DR Congo) 21H00 Omdurman
Sunday, 27 September 2015
El Hilal (Sudan) vs USM Alger (Algeria) 20H00 Omdurman
*All times are in local time