Berkane facing the Mazembe mountain


Hamza El Moussaoui’s teammates have an obligation to win on Sunday evening if they want to reach a third final in 4 years.

Defeated on the smallest of scores in Lubumbashi, the Renaissance of Berkane welcomes Sunday evening (9 p.m.) TP Mazembe, in the semi-final return of the Confederation Cup. For Florent Ibenge’s men, the objective is to reach a third final in 4 editions. But the task is far from easy in front of a monument of African football.

The first leg was decided in stoppage time and the bitterness of having conceded a goal in the last breaths of the meeting in Lubumbashi could be the greatest motivation for the players of the Renaissance of Berkane. The Orientals welcome TP Mazembe on Sunday evening on the lawn of the municipal stadium, with the sole objective of the qualifying ticket for the final of the Confederation Cup. Florent Ibenge’s men are running behind a third appearance in the final, in the last 4 editions. The match is also akin to a passing of the baton between the two teams that have dominated the competition in recent years. The RSB can also rely on its enthusiastic public, which has pushed it several times in the past to accomplish feats by going up the score in very complicated situations.

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Interview with Florent Ibenge, RSB coach: “We believe in victory against TP Mazembe, we will go to the final”

Appointed coach of the Renaissance de Berkane in July 2021, Florent Ibenge leads the Orientals this Sunday against TP Mazembe in the semi-final return of the Confederation Cup. In this exclusive interview with “Le Matin”, the former DR Congo coach looks back on the ongoing reconstruction process at Berkane and urges supporters to be patient with their team, whose future looks even brighter. Ibenge is confident ahead of facing Ravens and believes in qualifying for the final.

Le Matin: Last Sunday in Lubumbashi, the RSB conceded defeat in stoppage time. How difficult is it to concede this kind of goal in such an important match?

Florent Ibenge: Very hard. In such a context, where we play a match to qualify for the final of an African competition, the details are very important. Failing to score an away goal with all the importance that may have, we wanted to at least keep our goals intact. Unfortunately, on this kind of matches, everything is played on details. Now it’s going to be tough because we know that Mazembe’s best weapon is their defence.

Are you still confident, before playing this semi-final return, against a cador of African football, TP Mazembe?

Sure ! We play all our games to win them. If you don’t believe in it, it’s not even worth setting foot on the lawn. We have to believe in it and it is up to us to put all the means at the disposal of the players so that they win this match and that Berkane plays the final.

Bakr El Hilali resumed training with the group this week. Are you confident of getting him back for Sunday’s game?

Yes, I think he will be with us. Bakr is a very interesting player, who brings a lot to the team and who does a huge job in the transition between defense and attack. With Adama Ba’s injury, Bakr El Hilali is now one of the only players who can fulfill this role.

Many say you are the ideal coach for Berkane when they face TP Mazembe, given your long experience as a former AS Vita coach and DR Congo coach. Do you share this vision of things?

It’s true that I trained AS Vita Club for 7 years and that I spent 5 years as coach. Which gave me a lot of experience. But it’s not just the experience that counts. You also have to have ambition. And we want to keep progressing and moving forward. Time will tell if the path is the right one.

There has been a lot of criticism, sometimes very harsh, of you from some supporters. Do you understand this kind of pressure in a club like Berkane?

We’re used to it, you know. The coach is the best when he wins and he is the worst when he loses. Football is like that. But people don’t know the difficulties you can have on a daily basis in a club of the caliber of Berkane. Rather, you have to compare to last year and see the progress we have made. All I ask is that people be patient.

Berkane has changed enormously in recent months, with many departures and a few young people incorporated. What is your project with the club, in the medium or even long term?

There are two important things for me: the reconstruction and the automatisms that must be created among the players. It is not easy to start a change operation. That’s why we try to get young people from the academy to play. Because it is the future of the team. But that takes time and patience.

And do you have the support of the leaders for this kind of process?

Everything is going very well with the management of the club. We all work for the good of the RSB. For example, we have three 15-year-old players who train with us regularly. They are players with very strong technical potential and who will only be juniors in three years. We invite them to come and train with us, so that they can learn from the professionals and immerse themselves in the identity of the team. You see there is a real process going on and over time the results will follow. I can tell you that by keeping this course, Berkane will dominate after 3 or 4 years. But as I said, you have to be patient and not cut corners.

You mentioned team identity and that’s an important topic. Some supporters say that the RSB has lost this identity of the game like an Atletico Madrid, for example. Do you think there is some sort of change in Berkane’s identity?

The supporters are within their rights. They want victories and when they see their team playing good football, they are happy and proud. Now in the world of football there are very few clubs that keep the same playing identity throughout the season. You mentioned Atletico, I can also mention Barça. But the most important thing is to try to find a balance and be efficient, while adapting to the reality of each match, each competition… That’s what we try to do here and over time, we’ll get there. arrive.

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