It has been more than 40 years, but TP Mazembe Englebert of the Democratic Republic of Congo are again the champions of Africa. An own goal handed them their first continental title since 1968, as they edged Heartland of Nigeria on the away goal rules to win the CAF Champions League title.
A 1-0 triumph in the second leg of the final at Lubumbashi's Stade Kenya means that Mazembe take the trophy after losing 2-1 away in Owerri in last Sunday's first leg. It was an own goal by the defender Victor Ezuruike that settled the tie, but it came with some 17 minutes left amid an atmosphere of heightening tension.
Mazembe, who had taken the lead away in the first leg, but conceded a goal near the end of the game to allow Heartland to travel to the return game with a 2-1 advantage, were, in the end, deserved of their success. But they made hard work of it in front of an expectant audience of 35,000 in Lubumbashi, which had been at near fever pitch in anticipation of the game.
Indeed, among the best chances of the first half fell for the Nigerians, with King Osanga missing a one-on-one opportunity face-to-face with Mazembe goalkeeper Robert Muteba in the 14th minute and then wasting another chance at the end of a swift counter attack on the stroke of half-time.
Alain Katuyudioko might have also scored for the hosts before the interval, but Heartland goalkeeper Augustine Brown pushed his shot onto the post and away to safety. Brown then had to go off with an injury after an hour, but Ikechukwu Ezenwa proved a more than able replacement by stopping Tresor Mputu's effort just five minutes after he had come on.
But there was nothing he could do to stop the own goal, allowing the black-clad Mazembe to edge ahead and then control the game through an astonishing last quarter-hour before they finally got their hands on the trophy.
Heartland's tension boiled over in the final minute when Emeka Nwanna was sent off, but by then the contest had been settled. Heartland have now finished runners-up for the second time in African football's top club competition.
It is the third title for Mazembe, whose previous wins were in 1967 and 1968. They also played in the final in each of the two ensuing years, but have since only managed to reach the semi-finals, as the club continued to rebuild over the last decades.
Their reward is $1.5m in prize money, plus a coveted berth to the FIFA
Club World Cup UAE 2009 in December, where Spanish giants Barcelona and other global favourites await as possible opponents.