x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Mazembe spring Club World Cup's greatest shock

Thanks to the team from Democratic Republic of Congo's win over Internacional, Africa can claim the greatest upset in the history of the competition.

Mazember players celebrate after their shock win over Internacionale at Mohammed bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.
Mazember players celebrate after their shock win over Internacionale at Mohammed bin Zayed stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Internacional 0 // TP Mazember 2

TP Mazembe Kabangu 53’, Kaluyituka 83’
Man of the match: Muteba Kidiaba (TP Mazembe)

ABU DHABI // The Year of African Football clearly is not over. First the World Cup in South Africa, and Ghana's surge into the quarter-finals of that milestone event. And now, thanks to TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo, Africa can claim the greatest upset in the history of the Club World Cup.

After more than 50 minutes of parrying vigorous attacks from the heavily favoured Brazilian side Internacional, Mazembe's Mulota Kabangu and Dioko Kaluyituka scored in the second half to give the African side a stunning 2-0 victory that sent them through to the final on Saturday against the winner of tonight's match between Inter Milan and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma.

The outcome marked the first time a team from outside South America or Europe has won a semi-final match in this competition; the previous 10 encounters all went to sides from the two traditional centres of world football.

"This is something special for us," said Lamine N'Diaye, Mazembe's Senegalese coach, through an interpreter. "We represent Africa, and all of Africa is proud of our work. It is the height of happiness.

"It's time to believe in the seriousness of African football, and I am talking about the nature of tactics.

"We have an intellectual brain and we are able to think cognitively and it's time to take seriously the abilities of African players."

Celso Roth, coach of Internacional, said he expected a difficult match, but he rued his side's missed opportunities.

"We dominated the game but didn't convert our opportunities into goals. Mazembe took their chances and converted them," said the Brazilian.

"We played much better than them almost the whole time, but now we have this bitter defeat and have to live with it."

Roth was not exaggerating in counting the scoring opportunities his side failed to convert. Rafael Sobis, the forward on loan at Internacional from Pro League club Al Jazira, was the most profligate, but he was not alone in wasting excellent chances.

The game changed quickly in the second half. On a counter attack, Kaluyitaka nodded a cross down to the feet of Kabangu, just inside the box.

He settled the ball, as the Internacional defenders Bolivar and Indio watched with apparent fascination, pivoted and struck a powerful shot into the upper-right corner of the goal, and Mazembe were suddenly more than Internacional's equal, at least on the scoreboard. The Brazilians in the Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium crowd of 22,131, who seemed to make up almost half of the attendance, fell silent and their anxiety seemed to infect the side.

Mazembe clinched the victory in the 85th minute when Kidiaba sent a long ball to Kaluyituka, who was being marked only by the midfielder Pablo Guinazu, and he carried it to the corner of the box, where he turned Guinazu inside out before drilling a low shot just inside the near post.

A few minutes later, Mazembe players dashed out onto the field to celebrate their historic victory, dancing and waving at their giddy fans who had sung and chanted throughout the match.

Internacional's beaten side walked off the field with their heads down and a place in the third-place game on Saturday their next item of business.

poberjuerge@thenational.ae

Click for the minute-by-minute action of how it happened