May 13, 2012

TP Mazembe have reached the group stage of the Champions League for the sixth consecutive time. The Crows drew 1-1 against Al Merreikh of Sudan in Omdurman on Saturday. They advance 3-1 on aggregate after winning 2-0 in the first leg in Lubumbashi.

Zambian midfielder Nathan Sinkala opened the scoring for Mazembe on 56 minutes after recovering a ball in the box that compatriot Rainford Kalaba got past the last defender. Colins Ekechi Osunwa leveled the score for Al Merreikh on 75 minutes.

Mazembe received a hostile reception (photos) from Al Merreikh’s fans as they arrived in Sudan for the match. The team and its fans were advised by the police to remain in their hotel for their own security.

Mazembe have now reached the quarterfinals of the premier continental football competition for the sixth consecutive time, winning the previous two out of three after the Confederation of African Football (CAF) disqualified the then reigning champions last year for allegedly fielding an illegible player.

Last year’s controversial CAF’s decision, which came in the wake of Mazembe making history by becoming the first team from outside Europe or South America to reach the final of the FIFA Club World Cup, prevented them from winning a record third consecutive Champions League title. The team vowed to appeal the decision to FIFA, the world football governing body.

The DR Congo football powerhouse announced in April that FIFA’s Dispute Resolution Chamber had ruled in their favor on their appeal and said they would seek rehabilitation.