18 September 2014 14:14
ES Setif will have a measure of home advantage taken away when they host TP Mazembe in their CAF Champions League semi-final first leg.
CAF announced on Wednesday that the Algerian side would have to play with their Stade du 8 Mai 1945 home closed after a meeting by the CAF Organising Committee for Interclubs Competitions.
It comes after repeated warnings and financial sanctions failed to stop incidents of unsporting behaviour by fans of ES Setif throughout the group phase of the tournament.
The decision will come as a bitter disappointment to the Algerians who would have been looking for their vociferous home support to lift their team against the four-time winners from the Democratic Republic of Congo on Saturday.
For their part, TP Mazembe have been encamped at the Lizzy Sports Complex in Accra, Ghana, since Monday in an attempt to improve their away form, having scored just once in their last four away games in this competition.
TP Mazembe are not the only DR Congo side to make the CAF Champions League semi-finals as AS Vita Club prepare to take on last year’s CAF Confederation Cup winners CS Sfaxien.
However, the shadow of their more illustrious and decorated countrymen hangs over Vita Club as they prepare for the first leg of the semi-final showdown with Philippe Troussier’s Tunisians – so much so that Vita Club coach Florent Ibenge was moved to claim his team had a “Mazembe complex”.
“The club is deeply traumatised by Mazembe’s superiority over the last few years,” he said.
“We could talk of a ‘Mazembe complex’, it would not be exaggerated.”
However, young striker Yunus Sentamu, who scored the goal against Zamalek of Egypt to send Vita through to the semi-finals, isn’t thinking of the complex that pre-occupies his coach.
“It is a great club to play for, and I am very proud that I am a part of the team that has advanced to the semi-finals,” the 20-year-old said.
“We now believe that we can go all the way. We are very strong at home and North African clubs struggle to play against us in Kinshasa.
“We will have a full stadium and with the crowd behind us we can beat anybody.”