Founded by Bendictine monks in 1939, Tout-Puissant Mazembe Englebert were among the first glamour clubs of African football in the formative days of continental club competition. They were the first side to play in four successive finals, winning the old-style African Champions Cup in 1967 and 1968 and were runners-up in 1969 and 1970, making players like Pierre Kalala, known as ‘Bombardier' and goalkeeper Robert Kazadi household names across Africa. Mazembe's feat of four finals in a row was only matched for the first time in 2008 by Egypt's Al Ahly. The squad also provided the bulk of the talent that helped Zaire to qualify for the 1974 FIFA World Cup™ finals and went on to win the African Cup Winners' Cup in 1980.
It has taken them more than 40 years but Mazembe are back on the throne of African club football. It is the reward for keeping intact a side that had competed in group phase of the CAF Champions League in 2008, missing out on the semi-finals by a single point, and had also got to the group stage of the CAF Confederations Cup in 2007. The ability to hang on to the formidable goalscoring talent of Tresor Mputu has been the club's biggest achievement for Mazembe. Mputu might not have scored many goals in the 2009 competition as he did in the past two years, when he finished as the top scorer, but his presence provided ample opportunities for those around him.
Italian-French coach Diego Garzitto also provided stability as Mazembe set the tone for their campaign with a comprehensive victory over Angola's formidable Petro Atletico in the early rounds and then went on to qualify for the group stage by eliminating Moroccan opposition. Mazembe finished top of their group and then emphasised their potential with the biggest away win in a semi-final tie in African club competition history by beating Al Hilal 5-2 in Sudan. It proved the confidence booster they needed to go on and win the title.
"The eager work of the players was the secret of our success. We have prepared feverishly the whole season and we were rewarded by the results. I tried to inculcate a spirit into my players and they accepted the challenge. We were not given any chance at the start of the season to win the Champions League but we wondered aloud what it would be like. It is a tremendous feat to have been able to have achieved it," said Garzitto.
Facts and figures
Pierre Kalala, Kamunda Tshinabu, Yembo, Andre Kalonzo, Leonard Saidi, Robert Kazadi, Tshimenu Bwanga, Elunga Massengo
Robert Kidiaba (goalkeeper), Eric Nkulukuta (defender), Tshai Mukinayi (defender), Patou Kabangu (midfielder), Narcisse Ekanga (midfielder), Tresor Mputu (forward), Alain Kaluyitukadioko (forward)
Mazembe netted 11 away goals in seven matches in the 2009 CAF Champions League, proving the value of scoring on the road.
The numbers game
5 - The number of CAF Champions League finals that TP Mazembe have competed in over a period of 42 years.