LUBUMBASHI - Tout Puissant Mazembe of Democratic Republic of Congo bridged a 41-year gap Saturday by regaining the African Champions League title.
But it was a close call before a sell-out 35,000 crowd in Lubumbashi with Mazembe defeating Heartland of Nigeria 1-0 to collect the record 1.5 million dollars first prize on away goals.
Heartland took a 2-1 lead into the second leg of the final and held out for 74 minutes before Victor Ezuruike conceded an own goal to bring the trophy back to copper-rich southern Congo.
Mazembe won the fledgling African championship in 1967 and 1968 and this year they budgeted five million dollars to try and lift a trophy that symbolises continental club supremacy.
Part of the money was spent on importing 59-year-old French coach Diego Garzitto and his pre-match prediction that the crowd packed into the Kenya Stadium would drive the Congolese ‘Crows’ to success came true.
Apart from the financial windfall, Mazembe qualify for the end-of-year FIFA Club World Cup in the United Arab Emirates with Spanish giants Barcelona among possible opponents.