African champions, T.P. Mazembe are banking heavily on captain Tresor Mputu Mabi to retain the Orange CAF Champions League this year.
Mputu, named Best player on the continent at the last Glo-CAF Awards last March, has been linked to several clubs abroad after achieving almost all there is with the Lubumbabshi-based club.
Mazembe have been drawn in Group A for the group phase of the premier continental club championship against former winners’ Entente Setif (Algeria) and Esperance (Tunisia) and Zimbabwean side Dynamos.
Team Manager Frederick Kitengie revealed to cafonline.com moments after the draw that Mputu will be around for their campaign again this term.
“Recently, the expected departure of Mputi for Europe was announced, but I want to inform our opponents he will be around. The treasure of Congolese football is not gone yet.”
Kitengie rated the group as fairly balanced, that his outfit is poised to snatch one the two slots for the semi finals.
“It is a balanced group and we have an idea of the opponents. We played against Esperance six years ago and for Dynamos and Entente Setif, we have some information about them.
“We (Mazembe) have gathered experience over the years since we are making our third successive appearance at the group phase. The team has not changed and we have strengthened our defence, midfield and attack.”
He added the club is indebted to their loyal fans on their unimpressive outing FIFA Club World Cup in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates last year, and the first step is retaining the title.
“We are indebted to our fans and our desire is to return to Abu Dhabi at the end of the year and show the world the real ‘Mazembe.’
Mazembe have won the premier club competition thrice; 1967, 1968 and 2009.