Striker Mbwana Samata scored twice and Roger Assale was also on target as TP Mazembe beat El Merreikh 3-0 on Sunday in Lubumbashi to reach the final of the 2015 Orange CAF Champions League.
A spirited second half performance by the Congolese was enough to overturn a 2-1 loss, with Tanzania import Samata scoring a brace and Assale wrapping up victory 4-2 on aggregate and set up a final meeting with Algerian side, USM Alger.
This is the first time since 2010 that ‘Les Corbeaux’ have reached the final of the premier continental club championship, and they achieved that feat at the expense of a familiar face – Diego Garzitto, the Frenchman who guided them to the title in 2009.
For the successive season, the final will feature two teams from the same country, Algeria and DR Congo, after ES Setif pipped AS Vita to the title last year.
Needing just a lone goal victory to secure passage to the final where 1.5 million US Dollars and a ticket to the FIFA Club World Cup Japan 2015 is at stake for the winners, it looked like Mazembe would have to do more after the visiting Sudanese held them to a clean sheet in the first half.
Seven minutes from recess, an unmarked Samata headed home from a Rainford Kalaba corner to set the packed TP Mazembe Stadium in Lubumbashi agog.
On 69 minutes, Samata doubled the lead by connecting in a Yaw Frimpong cross past Merreikh goalie Jamal Salim. Assale signed off victory with the third goal a minute later with a superb shot that left Salim with no option.
Malian winger Adama Traore chested a Thomas Ulimwengu pass to Assale, who fired a shot that Salim saved with his hand, but he struck the rebound powerfully beyond the Uganda-born shot stopper. At that time, it was game over as Merreikh fought back but even a consolation remained elusive.
It is the seventh time ‘Les Corbeaux’ are in the final after 1967, 1968, 1969, 1970, 2009 and 2010; winning it on four occasions except 1969 and 1970. Unlike rivals AS Vita, Mazembe will travel to Algiers on the weekend of 30 October to 1 November for the final leg, before hosting the return encounter on the weekend of 6-8 November.