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Stiff CAF Cup challenge looms for Mazembe

Johannesburg, Thursday @PeopleSports

Leaders TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo face their toughest CAF Confederation Cup Group A test when they tackle second-place Mouloudia Bejaia in Algeria this weekend.

Both are unbeaten after two match-days in the second-tier African club competition with Mazembe winning at home to Medeama of Ghana and away to Young Africans of Tanzania. Bejaia defeated Young Africans at home and drew away to Medeama, leaving them two points behind the pacesetters.

The top two after a double round advance to the semi-finals. “This promises to be our most difficult group match,” admitted France-born Mazembe coach Hubert Velud before the Lubumbashi Ravens flew to Algeria.

“The players want to continue what they have been doing lately,” he said, referring to successive victories after a disappointing start to their 2016 CAF campaign. Title-holders Mazembe were eliminated from the CAF Champions League in the final qualifying round and demoted to the Confederation Cup – a fate that also befell Bejaia.

Having relied on an away goal to oust Stade Gabesien of Tunisia in a play-off, Mazembe finally clicked to beat Medeama 3-1 with Zambia winger Rainford Kalaba bagging a brace. Kalaba missed the victory over Young Africans through injury, but is fit to face Bejaia.

Although the Algerians lack the stars and the pedigree of their rivals, coach Nacer Sandjak has his sights set on maximum points and top spot. “This match offers a great opportunity to maintain our unbeaten group record, collect three points and replace Mazembe as leaders,” he said. -AFP

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