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TP Mazembe: Tribute to the Master

By Satish Sekar © Satish Sekar (April 20th 2024)

For the Legend

After confusion about the fate of Tout Puissant (TP) Mazembe legend, Rainford Kalaba, the most successful club in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) took to the pitch for the first leg of their Champions League semi-final against the defending champions, Al-Ahly sporting Kalaba’s number 18 jersey – a touching gesture of solidarity with the club legend.

The Master, as Kalaba is known, won the Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) with Zambia in 2012. He enjoyed a successful 12-year spell with TP Mazembe, winning the Linafoot (DRC’s) top league five times, the CAF Champions League in 2015 and both the CAF Supercup and CAF Confederation Cup the following year. He also won the CAF Supercup in 2011 – the year he joined TP Mazembe.


Kalaba was in a stable but critical condition in the University Teaching Hospital – Adults – after almost losing his life in a horrific car crash on the Kafue Road in the south-eastern province of Zambia on Saturday April 13th. He was wrongly reported as having died by some journalists. The crash cost his friend’s wife, Charlene Mkandawire, who was driving, her life.

Kalaba faces a long road to recovery.


TP Mazembe, formerly Tout Puissant Engelbert achieved the historic quadruple of the Linafoot title, two domestic cups and the African Cup of Champions Clubs in bizarre circumstances – Asante Kotoko did not attend a scheduled replay, saying that that they had not been informed – in 1967.

A year later Congo-Kinshasa as it was known then surprisingly beat African champions, Ghana, to deny the Black Stars their third successive AFCON title. TP Mazembe remain the only Congolese club to have won Champions Clubs trophies. They are the first club to retain the African Champions Clubs title. They won the CAF Champions League in 2009 and again retained it in 2010, winning it for the fifth and so far, last time in 2015.

Their achievements remain very impressive in Africa, but tonight’s opponents Al-Ahly dominates the competition with 11 titles in champions Clubs tournaments – the latest being last year. If the Egyptians succeed in the semi-final they will make their fifth consecutive appearance in the final.

Despite their touching gesture and having the best of the first leg TP Mazembe were unable to find a way past Al-Ahly – the first leg ended in a 0-0 draw in Lubumbashi (formerly known as Elisabethville, leaving all to play for in a week’s time in Cairo. Meanwhile, Kalaba faces a long journey to recovery.

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