Rwandan champions APR face 2009 African Champions League (CAF) reigning champions TP Mazembe in the second round of the CAF Orange Champions League preliminaries phase first leg this afternoon at Amahoro stadium.
The DR Congo side with an annual budget of $20 million is among richest clubs on the African continent, compare that to APR’s and you get the enormous difference between the two teams.
This is probably APR’s biggest game in their history and it will be a measure of how far they’ve come.
The army club has made reinforcements this term in a bid to compete with the best clubs on the continent, and today’s game will be a test of how good their new signings are when they take on the best.
APR stormed the second round of the lucrative competition after Saturday’s 1-0 win over Angola’s Recreativo de Libolo.
However, Erik Paske’s side will need to go an extra mile if they are to get a good result against the Lubumbashi based team that has made massive recruitments as they bid retain their crown.
It is a game both sides have a chance to win. APR have been inspired by regular contribution from magnificent midfield dynamos of then Twite twin brothers; Mbuyu and Kabange.
Unfortunately, Mbuyu is out of the game with a long term ankle injury and he will be badly missed in a game of this magnitude and his brother has been carrying a leg injury he sustained in the first leg against Recreativo de Libolo in Kigali.
TP Mazembe is inspired by Tresor Mputu Mabi, the talismanic midfielder who scored seven goals in theircrun to the last year’s African title.
His presence in the squad means APR players will have their hands full when trying to stop a player who earns monthly wages of $10,000. He is said to be one of the highest paid player on the African continent.
Since joining the reigning DR Congo champions in 2003, Mputu has emerged a target for most big guns with his scintillating performances, but opted to stay with the Lubumbashi based club with whom he thinks he can reach greater heights.
The DR Congo international, who turned 24 on December 10, and touted as one of the best talents in the history of Congolese football expressed delight at his contribution to the success story of Mazembe last term.
Mputu was a member of the DR Congo team that conquered the maiden edition of the African Nations Championship (CHAN) held in Cote d’Ivoire last year and was also adjudged the Most Valuable Player (MVP) of the tournament.
In the run to last year’s champion’s league crown, Mazembe beat Heartland FC of Nigeria in the final.
It was the third time Mazembe have emerged winners in the continents most prestigious club competition after successes in 1967 and 1968.
Mazembe was also the African representative at the FIFA Club World Cup that took place in the United Arab Emirates in December last year.