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USM Alger v TP Mazembe: Hamdi aims to complete remarkable run

Miloud Hamdi has urged USM Alger not to overestimate four-time CAF Champions League winners TP Mazembe ahead of the first leg of the final on Saturday.

Hamdi took over as interim coach of a struggling Alger team, who only survived relegation from Algeria’s Ligue 1 with a victory on the final day of last season, in June.

He has since led Alger to the top of the domestic table and to the showpiece of Africa’s premier club competition for the first time, earning the coach’s job on a permanent basis as a result.

Alger lost just one game en route to the knock-out rounds after being pitted alongside domestic rivals ES Setif and MC El Eulma and Sudanese side Al-Merrikh in the group stages.

And, after beating another team from Sudan, Al-Hilal, in the semi-finals, Hamdi is determined to ensure their magnificent run is not in vain.

“We shouldn’t underestimate our opponents, but we shouldn’t fall into the trap of overestimating them either,” Hamdi told FIFA.com.

“I’ve got confidence in my players and I’m sure that they’ll be up for the challenge. After the run they’ve had, it would be a travesty if they didn’t lift the trophy. 

“USM Alger are just 180 minutes away from creating history. We’ll be representing Algeria and all of North Africa. We’ll do everything in our power to ensure that an Algerian name appears on the trophy for the second year running.”

Standing in their way is a Mazembe side led by a prolific striker in Mbwana Aly Samatta, who has previously attracted from interest from CSKA Moscow.

Samatta has six goals in the competition, two of which came as Mazembe overturned a 2-1 first-leg deficit to knock out Al-Merrikh in the semi-finals with a 3-0 second-leg win.

Victory in the final would see Mazembe qualify for the FIFA Club World Cup alongside the likes of Barcelona and River Plate.

And, ahead of the first leg in Algiers, Samatta told FIFA.com: “It [reaching the Club World Cup] would be incredible. 

“It would be the reward for a lot of hard work, but above all a huge source of pride for me and the club. It would also be historic for Tanzania.”

On Alger, he added: “Algerian football is quite simply the best there is in Africa at the moment. There are clearly reasons to fear them.”

Thu 29 Oct, 2015
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