x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Mazembe's Mputu wants out of Africa

Tresor Mputu laments his team's lack of experience and urged potential suitors to provide him with the opportunity to improve abroad.

TP Mazembe's Tresor Mputu, left, was once a target of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.
TP Mazembe's Tresor Mputu, left, was once a target of Arsene Wenger's Arsenal.

ABU DHABI // Tresor Mputu, having failed to fire his TP Mazembe side past Pohang Steelers and into the semi-finals of the Club World Cup, lamented his team's lack of experience and urged potential suitors to provide him with the opportunity to improve abroad. The African champions lost 2-1 on Friday night at a rain-sodden Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium. Mputu, 24, once a target of Arsene Wenger's English title challengers Arsenal, said only gaining more match practice at this level would help him and his side improve.

"We never play football when it is raining and it is these small details that can decide football matches," said the Congolese midfielder, voted Most Valuable Player in last year's African Champions League. "We are lacking experience at this level - this is the first time we are competing in this competition. Pohang are a good, experienced football side with great forwards, especially Denilson, but we did our best and can only improve in the future."

Mputu said after leading his side to Champions League victory earlier this year that he is ready for a new challenge in a bid to progress and reiterated that sentiment, urging any club looking to acquire his services in the January transfer window to approach chairman Moisa Katumbe Chapwe. "I am ready," he said. "Anybody who wants me must come and speak with the bosses, then we can take it from there."

Mazembe's French coach Diego Garzitto added his side would have fared better if his players had more time to prepare. Linafoot, Congolese football's top league, finished on September 6, and the players only returned to training at the start of this month. "It would have better for us if the tournament had taken place in February," said Garzitto. "But of course in Europe, the Champions League is running so it would be impossible. It's a pity because it would have been good had we been able to play a few more games." gmeenaghan@thenational.ae