TP Mazembe’s participation at the FIFA Club World Cup UAE 2009 came to a end on Wednesday with a 3-2 defeat to Auckland City in the match for fifth place. The last-minute defeat was the worst possible way for the Crows to conclude what has nevertheless been a useful learning experience for them.
The African champions have certainly not disgraced themselves on their two outings in Abu Dhabi, and with a little more luck and consistency, they could have returned home with more than sixth place to their name. In the end, however, it was the little details that made all the difference, as TP’s French-Italian coach Diego Garzitto explained to FIFA.com at the conclusion of their adventure in the Emirates.
“We need to correct those little things that didn’t quite work out and come back stronger next year,” lamented the defiant tactician, a sentiment his players were keen to echo.
“Though we were beaten fair and square, we weren’t far away from winning,” said front man Mulota Kabangu, who is convinced he and his team-mates can come back and hold their own against tough international opposition. “We're going to get straight back into training, work hard and do things better. Our aim is to return to the Club World Cup one day, and we should not forget that we have been up against some strong sides here, the best from each continent.”
TP showed flashes of their potential in Abu Dhabi, taking the lead against Pohang Steelers, and coming from behind against Auckland despite being down to ten men. The individual performances of playmaker Tresor Mputu Mabi and ever-agile goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba were also plus points for the Congolese side.
And after suffering back-to-back defeats the men from Lubumbashi now know what is required to succeed at the highest level. “We need to push ourselves even harder in competitions like this,” explained Garzitto. “We’re going to go away and concentrate on defending our Champions league title and then come back even stronger next year. That has to be our objective. We have some good qualities but plenty of faults too and we need to sort them out. I’m looking to bring in four or five new players to make us more competitive.”
Making an immediate return to the FIFA Club World Cup will be no easy task for TP Mazembe. Given their determination to improve on this week’s showing, though, it would be no surprise to see the Crows fly back and ruffle a few feathers in the UAE next year.