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Mazembe feat inspires DR Congo

TP Mazembe fans holding a photo of goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba
Mazembe fans, seen here celebrating their African club crown, are optimistic about Saturday's final against European champions Inter Milan

By Patrice Citera
BBC Sport, Kinshasa

A wave of optimism is spreading across the Democratic Republic of Congo as football fans voice their belief that TP Mazembe will win the Fifa Club World Cup on Saturday.

The Lubumbashi side face European champions Inter Milan of Italy in the final in Abu Dhabi.

TP Mazembe became the first African team to reach the final after beating Brazil's Internacional 2-0 in the semi-finals after seeing off Pachuca of Mexico in their opening game.

The two successes have sparked huge expectations among fans that the African champions will win the Club World Cup despite the pedigree of their illustrious opponents.

In both the capital Kinshasa and Lubumbashi, DR Congo's second-largest city, television and radio are running special programmes where most fans are confidently forecasting victory.

Meanwhile, groups of people are gathering on the streets and in bars to discuss the hottest topic of the day.

"Beating Internacional gave us strong confidence in ourselves which means we are going to win the cup by beating Inter," says Amisi Mujanaeri, a businessman in Kinshasa. "And we have already proved to the world that TP Mazembe is a great club."

Aron Lwamba, a government worker, is wary of the threat posed by Samuel Eto'o, who has netted 16 goals in 19 games this season, but points out that his national side drew a 2012 Nations Cup qualifier in Cameroon as recently as October.

TP Mazembe players
Mazembe players celebrate their unexpected win over Internacional

"Many TP Mazembe players played against Eto'o during the Nations Cup tie with Cameroon," he explains.

"When I see Inter, I say that Mazembe is playing against Eto'o - but I think Mazembe will force extra-time."

"For me Mazembe will beat Inter Milan and win the Cup," says Corneille Longwa, an agent with a broadcasting company.

"Inter Milan is like any other club in the world and that's why I say we will beat them. I am not worried that they are great club from Europe."

For others, TP Mazembe success is a sign of national pride.

"I don't mind whether Mazembe win the cup or not," one businessman told a radio station.

"The most important for me is that when I travel around the globe, if I introduce myself as coming from DR Congo and somebody does not know Congo I will tell him that it is TP Mazembe's country.

"And I guess he will then know my country."

As for the written media, newspapers believe that TP Mazembe's place in the final is already enough given it is the first African club to ever reach that stage.

"The Crows are 90 minutes away from the world crown," trumpets L'Avenir, a popular paper because of its extensive football coverage, on the front page of its sports section.

And it added: "Whatever the outcome of the final, TP Mazembe has already entered the world football pantheon in its quality as either Champions or runners-up of the World Club Cup".

It is likely that when the final ends on Saturday, many fans will echo the paper's quotes should Inter win - even if they are emotionally predicting a Mazembe victory for now.

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