African underdogs take on Internacional

TP Mazembe Englebert’s quest to become the first non-European and non-South American side to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup continues on Tuesday when they take on SC Internacional do Porto Alegre in the semi-finals. The Brazilians are intent on making history themselves by becoming the first team to win the competition twice since it was restructured in 2000.

The match
TP Mazembe Englebert-SC Internacional do Porto Alegre, Mohammed Bin Zayed Stadium, Abu Dhabi, Tuesday 14 December 2010, 20.00 (local time)

The stakes
In disposing of Club de Futbol Pachuca in the quarter-finals, African champions TP Mazembe achieved their objective of recording a maiden win in the competition and improving on last year’s record of two defeats from two matches. To kick on and beat the Brazilians, however, the Crows will have to fly in the face of history: no team from outside the UEFA and CONMEBOL confederations has ever reached the final of the competition.

The Copa Libertadores holders are favourites going into what is their first game of this year’s tournament. Aside from a formidable line-up, Internacional can also point to another statistic full of foreboding for their opponents: in the previous three FIFA Club World Cup meetings between African and Brazilian sides, the Brazilians have won every time. One of those victories was secured by O Colorado themselves in 2006, when they downed Egypt’s Al Ahly Sporting Club in the last four before seeing off FC Barcelona in the final.

The winners of the tie will face the winners of the other semi-final between Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma F.C. and F.C. Internazionale Milano.

The stat
0 -
The number of defeats Brazilian teams have suffered in the history of the competition, having won nine and drawn three of their 12 games. One of those draws came in the 2000 final, when Corinthians held Vasco da Gama to a goalless stalemate before winning 4-3 on penalties.

The quotes
“I said when we arrived that our aim was to do better than last year. We’ve done that but we’re hungry for more and we’re going to give it our very best shot to reach the final. We’ll need to improve on our performance against Pachuca to do that though,” Lamine N’Diaye, TP Mazembe coach.

“They’re a strong, quick team and play exciting football, but I wasn’t impressed with them tactically. Given the quality we’ve got, if we can combine with the players breaking from deep, such as [Andres] D’Alessandro or Tinga, we’ll cause them problems,” Alecsandro, Internacional striker.