Johannesburg - TP Mazembe coach Hubert Velud does not accept
that his Democratic Republic of Congo outfit are favourites to beat Algerian
club Mouloudia Bejaia in the CAF Confederation Cup final.
The first leg of a classic David-versus-Goliath showdown is
set for Stade Mustapha Tchaker in Blida Saturday with the return match eight
days later at Stade TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi.
France-born Velud is adamant that Mazembe winning nine CAF
titles and Bejaia competing in Africa for the first time this year will have no
impact on the destiny of the trophy.
His belief is based on two tight tussles between the clubs
at the group stage with the first ending goalless and Mazembe winning 1-0 at
home through a Rainford Kalaba goal.
Also read: African giants Etoile, Mazembe in cup showdown
"The final is a 50-50 affair," the coach who has
previous experience with several top-flight Algerian clubs told the Congolese
"Mouloudia have proved their worth and I am not
surprised that they qualified for the Confederation Cup final.
"Having worked at several Algerian clubs as a coach, I
know the mentality of the players extremely well.
"While some Algerian footballers may lack a little in
talent, they more than compensate for that with incredible fighting spirit.
"Bejaia have been written off regularly during this
competition and now they are in the final," said the 57-year-old former
"On our side, there is a need for better finishing. We
created many scoring chances during the two legs of the semi-final against
Tunisian club Etoile Sahel yet scored only one goal."
Mazembe, whose nine CAF triumphs include five in the elite
Champions League, boast the most multi-national club side in Africa with stars
from DR Congo, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Mali and Zambia.
Among those stars is Zambia dribbling wizard, captain and
He has netted six times in the Confederation Cup this
season, making him joint leading scorer with Arsenio 'Love' Cabungula, whose
Angolan club were eliminated in the play-offs.
Congolese pair Jonathan Bolingi and Merveille Bope, who
boast five CAF goals between them, are others who will require close policing
from a mean Bejaia defence.
Bejaia coach and former Algeria defender Nacer Sandjak says
he is happier facing 2013 runners-up Mazembe than 2015 title-holders Etoile
Sahel in the final.
"If I had to choose between the two teams, I would have
opted for the Congolese because the Tunisians are very difficult to
handle," he told the Algerian media.
"When we meet Mazembe this time, we will not be taking
a leap into the unknown. We know our opponents quite well now.
"They are a strong side with very athletic individuals,
but we think we have the right formula to beat them."
Bejaia rely more than Mazembe on home-based footballers, but
Malian defender Soumaila Sidibe and France-born Chad international Morgan
Betorangal are possible starters.
Betorangal has been nominated for the 2016 Africa-based
Footballer of the Year award helped, no doubt, by a brilliant long-range goal
in a key group game against Medeama of Ghana.For
the latest on national news, politics, sport, entertainment and more follow us
on Twitter and like our Facebook page.