Sunday, 27 June 2010

TP Mazembe (DR Congo)

Tout Puissant Mazembe - the TP part of their name translating as, rather immodestly, All Powerful - are one of the oldest and most successful club sides in African history. Based in Congo's second city, Lubumbashi, a copper-mining settlement near the border with Zambia, they were formed back in the 1930s by an order of Benedictine monks at the Holy Institute Boniface of Élisabethville, to keep those of their students who didn't want to take up the cloth fit and healthy.

In those early days they went under the name of the Holy Georges, and they soon joined the Royal Federation of the Native Athletic Associations league, where they came third in their first season. They continued on as the Georges until they changes saints and became Holy Paul FC in 1944. A few years later they cut all link with their church-based founders and became the rather quaint sounding FC Englebert, named after their new sponsor, a local tyre brand.

But it wasn't until the sixties that their star began to really shine. In 1966 they won a rare local treble - the National Championship, Katanga Cup and Congo Cup - while it reached the final of the African Cup of Champions between 1967 and 1970, winning the first two years, and becoming the only team to have ever defended the title, until Enyimba International of Nigeria finally equalled their record in 2003 and 2004. 

They won the Cup of Champions again in 2009, going on to play in the FIFA Club World Cup, where despite starting well, they finished sixth.

In total they've won the Congolese national league ten times, the Congo Cup five times, and have qualified for the Cup of Champions, and its successor the CAF Champions League on an admirable 13 occasions.

After their initial spell of success in the sixties and seventies, they spent getting on for two decades in the wilderness, when the Governor of the Katanga Province, Moïse Katumbi Chapwe, took over as club president, changed the name and started pumping money into the team. Indeed, he's recently announced that he's looking to punp ten million dollars into the team next season, and plans to build a new stadium to replace their 35,000 capacity Stade Frederic Kibassa Maliba soon - the first to be solely owned by a Congolese club.

However, The Crows, as their fans call them, made the news most recently for much less pleasant reasons when they were expelled from the West African CECAFA Cup, when their star player, Tresor Mputu Mabi, set about the Ethiopian ref after he had a goal disallowed in a tetchy match against their fellow stripes form Rwanda, APR FC. The match was abandoned and Mazembe sent home in disgrace. It has transpired that Spurs have shown an interest in the Mabi for the Champions League push, so if they do go on and buy him, keep an eye on this talented yet volatile player!

TP Mazembe more than made up for their above indiscressions when they became the first African side ever to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup - a tournament for the continental champions from across the globe - in the UAE in 2010. They made history when they beat the South American Champs, Brazil's Internacional, 2-0 in the semi-final, before going on to lose 3-0 in the final to that other Inter, from Milan in Italy. Good work fellas!

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1 comment:

  1. Hail to the All Powerful Mazembe! It has humiliated Sport Club Internacional, from Brazil, some years ago. That is the biggest humiliation a football/soccer team from the Americas has ever received. All thanks for the great Mazembe.