Johannesburg - SuperSport United assistant coach Kaitano Tembo believes they were lucky to come out alive from the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) in June.
SuperSport drew 2-2 with TP Mazembe in a Lubumbashi thriller, but Tembo says the scoreline was a bit flattering. The two clubs again played to a goalless draw in Atteridgeville.
They will meet again in the final of the CAF Confederation Cup next month to settle the score once and for all.
Intimidating CAF successes
Mazembe, the second most successful club in CAF competitions with 10 titles behind Egyptian side Al-ahly Shendi with 11 titles, host the first leg in Lubumbashi on November 18.
With five CAF Champions League titles, one Confederation Cup championship, one African Cup Winners trophy and three CAF Super Cup gold medals, they are one of the best teams on the continent.
They are vying to defend the title they won last year.
What makes Mazembe a formidable side?
A quick glance at their recent history suggests they are a hard nut to crack at home.
They have not lost in front of their home supporters in this year’s competition – winning five of their six matches. Even more worrying is that they have not lost away from home either.
Simply put, they have not lost a CAF Confederation Cup match this year.
Most of their players are international soccer material who play for national teams. While most of their players are members of the DRC national team, they also have players from Zambia, Burkina Faso, Mali and the neighbouring Republic of the Congo.
Stade TP Mazembe factor
According to Tembo, the atmosphere at the 18 000-seater stadium is breathtaking and intimidating.
He says the hostile supporters make it hard for visiting teams to settle down quickly and play their normal game. From the moment you land at the airport, you can already feel the tension and smell danger.
“It’s even worse on match day, as the atmosphere is something else. To be honest, we were lucky to concede only two goals in the first half and we showed great fighting spirit in the second half to force a draw. You need fighters who are not easily intimidated,” said Tembo, who was in charge of the team in Lubumbashi.
Tembo says SuperSport should brace themselves for the mother of all battles in Lubumbashi. He, however, said their June experience should see them through. He reckons that SuperSport will need the same fighting spirit to prevail in the first leg – away in Lubumbashi.
“We must go there and play without fear and not show them any respect. Our players have done it in hostile situations before and they should be ready for anything that Mazembe will throw at them.
“We have shown we can compete and I believe we have players to do the job. Take nothing away from Mazembe, but they are not as good as they used to be".
He says they need to do the job away from home because their home record in this competition has not been great.
“We have always done better on the road and I hope we continue like that, so we can manage the game at home".