T.P. Mazembe: 1967, 1968 and 1980
Tout Puissant Mazembe “black and white”, winner of the African Champions League Cup in 1967 and 1968, and finalist of the same competition in 1970 and 1971, also won the African Cup Winners Cup in 1980. T.P. Mazembe has already climbed to the pinnacle of the Confederation of African Football, CAF. No other Congolese club can boast of such titles to its credit.
The first African champions which bore the colours of T.P. Mazembe had such names as Pierre Kalala, Robert Kazadi, Leonard Saidi, Raymond Bwanga, Martin Tshinabu, Pierre Katumba, Albert Mukombo, Célestin Kamba, Félicien Kabenji, André Kalonzo, Benoît Nyembo and Jean Ngoie. These athletes, disciplined and trimmed to size, toured the continent within four years at a stretch. From Brazzaville to Cairo, passing through Addis-Ababa, Kumasi, Abidjan, Yaounde, Lome and Conakry, they aroused crowds.
Being the author of historical goals, Martin Tshinabu was a spectacular winger of exceptional class. A great dribbler and free kick shooter, he was dazzling against Forces Armees Royales (FAR) of Morocco during T.P. Mazembe’s second African conquest. Hailed by the Casablanca public during a match which the Congolese side dominated from start to finish, Tshinabu only joint his team mates in the dressing room naked. Excited by the start and the blinding shots of this celebrated left winger, spectators, like vultures, threw themselves on him to have either a piece of his short or his jersey to keep as souvenir from the football king.
In a match against Ashanti Kotoko on January 24, 1971, at the 20th May Stadium in Kinshasa, Tshinabu failed to score a penalty that would have permitted Mazembe to win the trophy title definitively. Congolese fans, fallen from so high, wept alongside their players. In the Ghanaian side, there was a spider: Robert Mensah, an agile keeper who was reputed in air born duels.
It took T.P. Mazembe a decade to rebuild with success. Under the captainship of Pierre Kalala, the legendary captain who became coach, Mazembe defeated Africa Sport at the final of the African Cup Winners Cup. This victory renewed hopes in spectators but the joy would be short lived. In the eyes of critical observers, things were clear: the injection of new blood negatively affected the team. The departure of Kazadi, Bwanga (African footballer of the year 1974) and others like Mwepu plunged the team into an abyss. This was followed by a series of poor results. The public heavily criticised the team management.