JOHANNESBURG - TP Mazembe coach, Pamphile Mihayo Kazembe, arrived at Lucas Moripe Stadium’s auditorium with the Caf Confederation Cup gold medal draped around his neck, and it wouldn’t be far-fetched to assume that he slept with it because of what it means.
The Lubumbashi-born coach made history with his childhood club by helping them become the first side to retain this trophy. They did that at the expense of SuperSport United, who they beat 2-1 on aggregate after playing to a goalless draw in the second leg in Atteridgeville on Saturday.
Making history with Mazembe is nothing new for Kazembe. In 2010, as captain, he led the Ravens to the final of the Fifa Club World Cup to become the first African club to reach that stage before losing to Italian giants Inter Milan.
“This result and to win this trophy is very special for me because I have been with TP Mazembe since 1998,” Kazembe said. “I grew up here. I won every cup with the team as captain. I won many cups also as an assistant coach. This is not my first cup as head coach because we also won the league. But this is the biggest cup in my coaching career.
"I would like to thank the players for the way they accepted me and worked with me. (On Saturday) we have a cup because of that relationship. I made the most of the chance I got.”
Kazembe had a difficult task of stabilising what looked like a sinking Mazembe ship. For a second successive year the Ravens were demoted to the Confederation Cup after they were knocked out of the Caf Champions League. Mazembe lost a number of their star players, either to retirement or Europe.
On this day (1967): @TPMazembe (formerly known as TP Englebert) won their 1st #CAFCL title (formerly known as African Cup of Champions Clubs) after beating @AsanteKotoko_SC of Ghana in the final #OTD pic.twitter.com/860TgzF4mK
Their owner, Moise Katumbi, is in self-imposed exile in Belgium due to his political ambitions of becoming President of the Democratic Republic of Congo, resulting in him clashing with current incumbent Joseph Kabila. The club also lost a degree of their aura of invincibility, which saw them claim five Champions League titles.
Kazembe had a lot to do when he took over in April following the sacking of Thierry Froger after the Ravens were knocked out of the Champions League by CAPS United in the first round. Kazembe has exceeded expectations with what he has done in a short space of time, even though what he did isn’t much for Mazembe, they expect to dominate DRC and win the Champions League - the Confederation Cup is something of a consolation prize for them as they are obsessed with battling with the big boys.
“I am a son of this team,” Kazembe said. “This is my team. I have been here for a long time. I have given them two cups in one season. It’s up to them to decide if they will again give me one year or six months. I will be here. I will continue. If they bring another coach, I will remain here and help him because this is my team.”