Democratic Republic of Congo club Tout Puissant Mazembe overcame a series of pre-match setbacks to defeat Dynamos of Zimbabwe 2-1 Sunday and reach the African Champions League semi-finals.
Midfielder Alain Kaluyituka gave the ‘Crows’ the lead on 59 minutes in their Lubumbashi fortress and Zambia-born striker Given Singuluma doubled the advantage soon after for the title holders.
Dynamos, who had seven players ruled out by suspension and injury, reduced arrears through Thabani Kamusoko with six minutes left of the Group A game and the result eliminates them from the competition with one round to go.
Mazembe, whose victory last year was their third in the premier African club championship and first since 1968, are level with Esperance of Tunisia on 10 points but have an inferior goal difference.
Former champions Esperance complete their schedule away to Dynamos next Saturday while Mazembe face what appears the much tougher task of tackling Entente Setif in Algeria.
Victory was a relief for Mazembe after a coaching upheaval this week saw Senegal-born Lamine Ndiaye replace Franco-Italian Diego Garzitto, architect behind the 2009 success.
Amid reports that the defending champions wanted to swop Garzitto and technical advisor Ndiaye after a 3-0 hiding at Esperance two weeks ago, Congolese officials claim the coach flew to Europe without notice.
The change of coach came just after world football governing body FIFA slapped a one-year ban on Mazembe midfielder, captain and talisman Mabi Mputu for attacking match officials in a regional competition this year.
Fellow midfielder Basisila Lusadisu was given an 11-month suspension for his role in the incident during an East and Central Africa championship match in Rwandan capital Kigali.
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