The 30-year old Ziaya, who rejoined ‘Les Aigles Noirs’ few months ago netted the vital strike a minute from time to give his side a slim goal advantage ahead of the second leg next weekend in Lubumbashi.
Earlier, Sofiane Younes restored parity for the Algerians after defender Said Arroussi’s own-goal gifted the visitors the lead in the second half.
Despite playing behind closed doors, Setif came back strongly to snatch victory and keep alive their hopes of their first continental silverware since 1988.
Mazembe were just seconds away from earning themselves a very positive draw thanks to their crucial away goal, before Ziaya punished them for sloppy defending at the death.
Interestingly, it was ‘Les Corbeaux’ who had the first attempt at goal of the game that witnessed a midfield dominated first half. Midfielder Patrick Ilonga fired a long shot from a free-kick, but was easily dealt with by Setif goalie Abdelwahab Khedairia after six minutes.
Five minutes later, Mazembe goalie Muteba Kidiaba was also called to duty and he responded with a diving save off a Younes goalbound shot in what passed for probably the best opening for the hosts.
After a barren first half, Mazembe resumed stronger with an awakened Rainford Kalaba leading raids upfront. Three minutes into the half, a three-man move involving Gladson Awako, Solomon Asante and Mbwana Samata, saw the latter being at the receiving end of a cross from Asante, but his header missed narrowly.
On 52 minutes, Kalaba on his usual runs at the left of the Setif defence laid a cross only for hard-pressed Arroussi to intercept into his own net in his attempt to save the situation, giving the visitors the opener.
The lead will last for only three minutes before Younes beat the offside trap to head past Kidiaba from Sid Ali Lamri’s well taken cross.
Soon after the equalizer, the tempo of the game soared with both sides making clear their intent for the second goal. On 66 minutes, Setif survived an attack by the visitors after Awako’s shot from close range was cleared off the line by Lyes Boukria.
Setif resorted to swift passing and it paid off a minute from time when Akram Djahnit fetched Ziaya. The veteran rounded Chonso Kabaso before firing into the corner of the net for the second goal.
The result ensured that Setif remain unbeaten in this year’s campaign.
On Sunday, DR Congo’s other representative AS Vita will engage CS Sfaxien of Tunisia in the other semi-final first leg match in Kinshasa.