TP Mazembe Englebert have produced the biggest shock in the history of the FIFA Club World Cup, beating Sport Club Internacional 2-0 to become the first team from outside Europe and South America to qualify for the final. Goals from Mulota Kubangu and Dioko Kaluyituka secured arguably the greatest ever win by an African club, stunning the South American champions and leaving Mazembe just 90 minutes from becoming world champions.
It was difficult to envisage the scenes of jubilation among the Mazembe players and fans early in this match, with Rafael Sobis going close for Internacional as early as the first minute after a slick exchange of one-touch passes had carved open the Africans’ defence. The same player continued to find space during some one-sided opening exchanges, and it took a magnificent save from the heroic Muteba Kidiaba to deny him the opening goal after eight minutes. The net had looked certain to bulge when Alecsandro sought out his striking colleague with an incisive low cross, but while the Inter No11 made solid contact, Kidiaba was somehow able to get down to divert the ball behind.
The Brazilians’ movement and speed of passing continued to bewitch Mazembe, and after Kidiaba had again come to the rescue by tipping away an Indio header, Tinga missed arguably the best of Inter’s chances, heading over from seven yards with the keeper stranded. Slowly but surely though, the African champions gained a foothold in this match, restricting their opponents’ opportunities and even launching a few counter-attacks of their own.
Mulota Kubangu provided their best effort of the first half, stinging the palms of Renan from all of 30 yards, but it was in the second period that Mazembe really began to up the ante. There was a greater urgency and aggression to their play from the moment action resumed, and it took just eight minutes for their more adventurous approach to be rewarded with the opening goal.
And what a goal it was too, volleyed just inside the far post by Kubangu after the Inter defence had allowed him time and space to control an Amia Ekanga knockdown. The ensuing celebrations were predictably exuberant, and once they had died down, it was left to the Brazilians to come up with a response.
But although Celso Roth’s team had their chances, they found in Kidiaba a worthy and defiant adversary, with the Mazembe keeper again denying Rafael Sobis on 59 minutes after the striker had lashed in a left-foot volley. With every save, the African champions’ No1 seemed to grow in confidence, and with 20 minutes remaining he produced another point-blank save to parry from Giuliano after the Inter substitute had burst clean through on goal.
It wasn’t entirely one-way traffic though, and Renan needed to produce some heroics of his own to tip over a terrific 25-yard free-kick from goalscorer Kubangu as the clock ticked down. However, the Inter keeper was helpless to prevent the goal that capped this historic African triumph. As they threw men forward in search of an equaliser, the Brazilians were caught by a classic sucker-punch, with Dioko Kaluyituka cutting in from the left and drilling an unstoppable 20-yard drive just inside the left-hand post.
Mazembe now go on to face the winner of tomorrow’s semi-final between FC Internazionale Milano and Seongnam Ilhwa Chunma, while Internacional will have to make do with a battle for bronze against the losers.