CAF Champions League: TP Mazembe Progress and a Stab at Semis

TP Mazembe from Congo failed to secure their slot in CAF finals after being edged out of the competition by Raja Casablanca. There has been a lot of debate regarding the Congolese side, especially their prospects at lifting CAF Champions League trophy for the fifth time but their maiden run for the big prize ended in quarter-finals after losing on aggregate.  Soccer pundits have pointed at several factors that may have ended a good story of a football club that has always staged a strong showing in the continent. If you are a punter looking to place a wager on the remaining games, this US bookmarker allows you to take advantage of competitive odds.

A bossy second leg win but no semi-finals

In the first leg played away at Raja Casablanca, TP Mazembe lost to the home side in a match that ended 2-0. Their hopes of qualifying for semis, however, remained alive in the second leg. They dominated the game from the start but lacked the firepower to score more. The game ended in 2-1 in favour of the Congolese Mazembe and it meant Raja Casablanca progressed on aggregate, thanks to a vital goal away from home.

Lack of Creativity In Front Of Goal

Despite forcing Raja to defensive positions, TP Mazembe strikers failed to score a third goal. There was a lack of patience, especially when it came to building an attacking force. A disciplined Raja defensive line frustrated creativity of strikers like Chico Ushindi.  One short on target did not materialize into a goal for the Congolese side and the first half ending level of 0-0. All hope was not lost. However, when the Ravens (Raja Casablanca) scored the first goal early in the second hell broke loose. TP Mazembe would, later on, secure a spot-kick after the Ravens goalkeeper fouled Muleka.

Muleka failed to convert it after a fine save from the goalkeeper, sending his team back to the drawing board. The setback comes in the wake of Zambia women qualifying for the 2020 Olympics in Tokyo.

A good run ends in Quarters

From the start of the CAF Champions League tournament, it was clear TP Mazembe were among the favourites to lift the trophy.  A fine run in the group stages saw the Congolese side top group A with 14 points. Closely following were Zamalek from Egypt, another footballing giant in the continent. However, a five-point gap in favour of Mazembe meant they were in for the knockout stage. In the group stage, two draws meant they were only short of two points to bag all 18 from 6.

However, unbeatable run in the group stages set the much-need moment to progress into the knockout stage. They won the first game in group A; beating Zamalek 3-0 at home, and drawing 0-0 in the return leg played four weeks later.  They also thrashed Zesco United 2-1 away from home, drawing 1-1 away with Primeiro de Agosto and claiming victory of 2-1 in the return leg at home. In the final group stage game, TP Mazembe thrashed Zesco 3-1 to progress to knockout, a match that was played at TP Mazembe Stadium in Lubumbashi, DR Congo.

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