Name: TP Mazembe
Country: DR Congo
Ground: Nouveau Stade Mazembe (18,000)
Nickname: Les Corbeaux (The Ravens) – The Crows – Tout Puissant (All-Powerful)
Official website: http://www.tpmazembe.com/
Honors: 11 domestic league titles
5 domestic cup titles
4 African Champions League titles
A background: Four names!
DR Congo’s top club was founded in 1939 by Christian missionaries who only decided to form a football team for the purpose of expanding activities for students who didn’t want to become priests.
The club began under the name The Holy Georges and then it was altered to Holy Paul FC in 1944 before being rechristened to FC Englebert - a tire brand that sponsored the team - a few years later.
They were soon labeled Mazembe (crows), under which the club had enjoyed most of their glory days.
However, it was Englebert who first broke into Africa’s history books in the 1960s when they managed to reach the Champions League final for four consecutive years, winning two on a row and losing as many including a memorable tie against Ali Abou-Greisha’s Ismaili in 1969.
The Crows then endured an unsuccessful era where they only made one Champions League appearance in 23 years, but returned to the continental scene thanks to the efforts of city governor and club patron Moise Katumbi Chapwe.
Mazembe gradually became regular participants in Africa’s top-club competition before conquering the Dark Continent in 2009 and 2010.
Top moment: Second of the world
Despite the achievements of the old Englebert, the heyday of the Congolese giants was seen in recent years starting with the CAF Champions League triumph in 2009.
Mazembe then made history by becoming the first African club to win back-to-back titles twice in 2010 when they thrashed Esperance of Tunisia 6-1 on aggregate.
Then came the achievement that shocked the world; a team from DR Congo finishing runner-up in the Club World Cup, marking an unprecedented feat for the Dark Continent.
Mazembe stunned the likes of Mexico’s Pachuca and ex-champions Internacional of Brazil as they only lost to a star-studded Inter Milan side in the final in Abu Dhabi.
Man to watch: Tresor Mputu
It remains a mystery how this man is still plying his trade at home after the likes of Arsenal, Tottenham and Anderlecht had been that close to signing him.
However, it is fair to say that one scornful incident had turned Mputu’s life upside down and ruined his potentially bright career in Europe.
“Now I think time is up for me to move… probably life in Europe will be better for me,” Mputu said this only three months before being hit by a 12-month FIFA ban for attacking a referee during a 2010 Cecafa Club Cup match.
The lengthy ban plus the reputation damage had certainly shattered the Mazembe captain’s European dreams, forcing him to stay in Lubumbashi for another spell.
Now 26, Mputu is still an inspirational figure for both club and country, and four goals in as many World Cup qualifiers for DR Congo so far suggests a strong comeback from suspension.
He is also Mazembe’s top scorer in the Champions League with four in four so far and will likely be a mighty threat to Ahli and Zamalek in the group stage.
In addition to being a prolific goalscorer, Mputu has the pace and technique that prompted some pundits including veteran coach Claude LeRoy to label him 'The next Samuel Eto’o'.
Coach: Lamine N’Diaye
N’Diaye, 55, is a former Senegal international who turned from an interim coach to the man in charge of Mazembe thanks to a scintillating run in 2010.
After Frenchman Diego Garzitto had suddenly left the club in September 2010, the Crows put their faith in N’Diaye to lead the team until the end of the season.
The Senegalese eventually earned a permanent contract after brushing aside Esperance to inspire Mazembe to a fourth Champions League title, before enjoying a stunning Club World Cup campaign in the UAE.
Apart from his heroics at Mazembe, N’Diaye had another memorable spell with Coton Sport of Cameroon between 2001 and 2006, guiding the Garoua club to five league titles out of their all-time 11.
Interesting fact: Zambia affiliation!
While the copper-mining city of Lubumbashi lies near the Zambian border, the reigning African champions had five Mazembe players on their books at the CAN 2012 finals.
On the other hand, there are nearly 10 Zambians among the ranks of Mazembe including four key members of N’Diaye’s selection.
The most notable Zambian crows are Rainford Kalaba, Given Singuluma and Stoppila Sunzu, who scored the winning penalty for his nation in the CAN 2012 final shootout victory over Ivory Coast.