Raja's Kanda relishing déjà vu
© AFP

The more the 2013 FIFA Club World Cup progresses, the more it bears striking similarities with the 2010 edition. For a start, title favourites FC Bayern Munchen go into the final having already amassed four trophies this year, as Inter Milan did in 2010, while the team from South America exited at the semi-final stage in both tournaments.

On Wednesday, Atletico Mineiro became only the second CONMEBOL representatives to lose at the penultimate hurdle after fellow Brazilians Internacional Porto Alegre three years ago, and on both occasions the victors hailed from Africa, Raja Casablanca following in the footsteps of Tout-Puissant Mazembe.

Those wins were historic results for the African game, and they had something else in common too – Congo DR winger Deo Kanda. Having helped the Crows shine in Abu Dhabi in 2010, the 24-year-old is currently doing likewise for the Green Eagles in Agadir and Marrakech.

"It's true, perhaps I'm a lucky charm," Kanda joked to FIFA.com after his side had seen off Ronaldinho and Co. "Before the match, I spoke to several team-mates about my experience against Internacional. I told them we had a chance of winning and that nothing was written in advance, except for the possibility that we might go down in history. Even if it wasn't easy, we made it in the end and it's a real pleasure."

Mazembe lit the way by becoming the first team from outside Europe or South America to reach the showpiece, and if Raja are now continuing their example, Kanda surely deserves a healthy amount of credit. Aside from his efforts on the pitch, the former Mazembe man is an important figure in the dressing room, where he can draw on his two previous Club World Cup tilts with the Congolese outfit in 2009 and 2010.

"I progressed a lot thanks to those two experiences," he said, having spent four of his six years as a professional with Mazembe. "Now I'll try to make the most of that experience to bring something extra to my team."

Cameo contributions
For the moment, Kanda has had limited opportunities to use his Club World Cup knowhow during games. He has started on the bench in all three of Raja's matches at Morocco 2013 and been brought on twice, serving up an assist for Abdelilah Hafidi's winning goal against Auckland City FC.

"It's really difficult to stay on the bench," he said, although he understands Faouzi Benzarti's reasoning. "The coach has tough choices to make because we have some really great players. I'm adapting to it but I'm always ready, at any minute of the game, to play and try to make the difference."

Kanda demonstrated that when he came on after 76 minutes against Atletico Mineiro, with the scoreline still 1-1. A quarter of an hour later and the Moroccan side were celebrating a famous 3-1 victory, which owed much to the lightning-quick counter-attacks of Kanda, Mouhssine Iajour and Mohsine Moutaouali.

"Tactically, the coach warned us that the Brazilians were going to try to break us down through the middle," explained the diminutive wide man, who measures up at 5ft7ins and has plundered four goals in 20 appearances for Congo DR. "Because of that, we tried to keep things tight, even if it's not easy sometimes to always be defending. But we tried to never give up, and also to attack on the flanks, because they were bigger and more powerful than us through the middle. And we got them."

The African outfit are now likely to face a similar conundrum in the final, with heavy favourites Bayern sure to demand another impressive defensive effort. "We'll no doubt have the same tactics, and we know it'll be really difficult," said Kanda, who has now contested six matches in three editions of the tournament.

"We'll try to do our best, though, because it's our duty to give everything in order to play the better football. With Mazembe, we came up against a better side than us in 2010, so I hope that this time I'll finish the game with a smile."