Friday, December 17, 2010

TP Mazembe: The Boys from Lubumbashi who are the Toasts of Africa

Lubumbashi, Haut-Katanga, Democratic Republic of Congo
Something about the Congolese city of Lubumbashi has always fascinated me. Maybe its because of its prominence in the Congolese civil war from 1960-1963. In colonial and post-colonial Congo, Lubumbashi was called Elisabethville and was the centre of power in the mineral-rich province of Katanga. As we learnt in history, Katanga attempted an unsuccessful  (in?)famous secession from the Congo in 1960 which lead to a series of unfortunate events.
Many years ago, before I went to college, I became BFFs  (Best Friends Forever) with a guy from Lubumbashi I met in Cape Town, South Africa called Hugues. In an eerie coincidence, while in college in the US , a random chat with a Haitian-American woman revealed that not only had she grown up in the Congo but her's and Hugues' family were very close acquaintances. This was really beyond happenstance!
But I digress. I was talking about Lubumbashi. The fair city has been in the news recently for reasons that have little to do with civil war, mineral-wealth or irrelevant 1 degree of separation stories. This time its all about 'The Beautiful Game'.
TP Mazembe Football Club
Tomorrow, the Lubumbashi-based football club Tout Puissant Mazembe (All-punishing Mazembe) will face F.C. Internazionale Milano in the FIFA Club World Cup. This is the first time an African team has reached the finals and  in case you were in doubt,  Internazionale Milano  go by the popular name of 'Inter Milan'.
Inter Milan are the current holders of the UEFA Champions league and can boast of the likes of Samuel Eto'o of Cameroon, Javier Zanetti of Argentina, Sulley Muntari of Ghana and  former player Zlatan Ibrahimovic of Sweden. Quizzically, nobody I have spoken to seems to be able to identify even one TP Mazembe player.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic: The (former) pride of Inter Milan. 

Although the match may just be a case of David  up against Goliath, TP Mazembe have done very well for themselves in recent years. They are currently the holders of the CAF Champions League  for a second year in a row. The fact that they have reached the FIFA Club World Cup is not only a credit to African football but to Africa as a whole. Let's face it, club football in Africa is in the doldrums and with the popularity of the English,  Spanish, Italian , French and German premier leagues on the continent, you are more likely to find people in Accra who are fans of Chelsea of London than  Hearts of Oak of Accra.

TP Mazembe is boldly opening up a world of possibilities and showing us all what African club football  can be. Tomorrow I'm firmly behind the boys from Lubumbashi all the way. Allez TP Mazembe - may you indeed live up to your name!!


Ghana_Hall_of_Shame said...

Thats very impressive. I hope they beat Inter!
Gotta love the underdog.

Nana Fredua-Agyeman said...

They have really done Africa proud yet we are not making enough noise. Had it been an European team we would be shouting here and there. It shows that we can match them boot for boot except that we task ourselves too much. We feel we are not there yet. Had the goals they scored against Internazional (the one in Brazil) were just superb and had it been scored by the likes of Messi all would have agreed that that made him the best player in the world. I guess Mputu is not playing

Abena Serwaa said...

@GHOS: *LOL* The way Inter Milan have played this season, its hard to tell who the underdogs are! On serious note, it would be amazing if they emerged victorious...

Abena Serwaa said...

@NFA: Ha! Glad to hear that you can identify one TP Mazembe player. I asked a couple of guys and they looked at me blankly. Of course if I asked them statistics on the English Premier League, they would have been able to spurt them out within 2 seconds. You are right...we do have an aversion towards African football. As Abedi Pele pointed out in a recent BBC interview, all the well-known African players are famous for playing outside of the continent in Europe. Tragic.

B.O.N.T.I said...

and the result. TP Mazembe 0 Internationale 3... hmmmm!!! bonus da sacking of Rafa