TP Mazembe to face USM Alger in African Champions League final
TP Mazembe of the Democratic Republic of Congo will meet Algeria's USM Alger in the 2015 African Champions League final.
Mazembe booked their place on Sunday with a 3-nil win over Sudan's Al Merreikh in the return leg of their semi-final in the Congolese mining hub Lubumbashi.
Tanzania international Mbwana Samata scored twice with Ivory Coast's Roger Assale hitting their third to give the four times former champions a 4-2 aggregate win.
After reaching the semi-finals three times in the last four years, Mazembe are in the final for the first time since they won the second of two back-to-back Champions League titles in 2010.
Mazembe went into Sunday's match under pressure, trailing Merreikh 2-1 from the first leg in Sudan.
In a tense first half, the hosts failed to find the net, with Merreikh still holding the advantage going into the break.
Eight minutes into the second half, Mazembe's in-form Samatta broke the deadlock to put his side 1-0 up with a powerful header off a corner.
He scored again on 70 minutes, pushing a low cross past Uganda-born Merrikh goalkeeper Jamal Salim at the near post.
Within two minutes, rampant Mazembe struck again with half-time substitute Assale slamming a loose ball into the net after Salim blocked his first scoring attempt.
It was a sad return to Lubumbashi for Italy-born Merrikh coach Diego Garzitto, who guided Mazembe to the 2009 Champions League title.
On Saturday night, USM Alger of Algeria reached the African Champions League final for the first time in their history, despite only drawing 0-0 at home against Al Hilal of Sudan.
The Algiers club won the first leg of the semi-final 2-1 in Omdurman last weekend and qualified by that score on aggregate.
The 0-0 draw in Algiers was the first time USM had failed to win at home in seven Champions League matches this season and was the fifth away draw for Hilal.
The best opening-half chance at Stade Omar Hamadi fell to USM's first-leg scorer Mohamed Amine Aoudia, who failed to capitalise on a one-on-one situation with goalkeeper Maxime Loic Feudjeu.
Algerian shot-stopper Mohamed Zemmamouche prevented a tense finish with a superb save to foil Abdul Latif Boya five minutes from time.
USM thought they had snatched a stoppage-time winner, but the South African referee ruled Mohamed Meftah offside.
Meftah and Malagasy Carolus Andriamatsinoro - the only non-Algerian in the USM side - were booked and will miss the first leg of the final.
The best previous showing by USM in the the elite African club competition was reaching the 2003 semi-finals.
USM are the fifth Algerian club after Mouloudia Alger, JS Kabylie (formerly JET), Entente Setif and Mouloudia Oran to reach the final, with only the latter side failing to lift the trophy.
They will enjoy home advantage first in the decider against TP Mazembe, with both matches of the 2015 final to be staged between 30 October and 8 November.
It is a second successive African Champions League final to be contested by clubs from DR Congo and Algeria.
Last season, Entente Setif of Algeria edged AS Vita Club of DR Congo on the away-goal rule in the Champions League decider after draws in Kinshasa and Blida.
At stake in the climax of the elite African club competition will be a $1.5 million first prize and a place in the Fifa Club World Cup to be hosted by Japan in December.