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Thursday, Dec. 16, 2010

Africa's Mazembe reaches historic Club World Cup final

ABU DHABI (AP) TP Mazembe became the first African team to reach the Club World Cup final Tuesday, upsetting Copa Libertadores champion Internacional of Brazil 2-0.

The side from the Democratic Republic of Congo broke the deadlock in the 53rd minute, with striker Mulota Kabangu controlling a knockdown in the area before placing a right-foot shot into the top corner past flat-footed goalkeeper Renan.

Dioko Kaluyituka sealed the victory in the 85th by beating Renan at his near post with a driven shot from just outside the area.

"This is a day of pride and we have succeeded," Mazembe coach Lamine N'Diaye said. "I believe our players who I trained and played with every day are of high standard and achieved a great victory. This is good for the Congolese people. All Africans should be proud of this team."

In Saturday's final, Mazembe will face the winner of Wednesday's second semifinal between Inter Milan and Asian champion Seongnam Ilhwa.

Internacional was the better side in the early stages on Tuesday, transfixing the opposition with slick passing and controlling the majority of the possession in the first half.

Mazembe goalkeeper Muteba Kidiaba somehow saved Rafael Sobis's shot from close range after eight minutes before midfielder Tinga headed his side's best chance over the bar 10 minutes later.

But Internacional failed to make the breakthrough and in the second half, Mazembe began to look dangerous on the counterattack as the Brazilian side pushed forward.

Mazembe came into the tournament without star striker Tresor Mputu, who has been banned for a year for assaulting a referee, but Kabangu made up for his absence with a goal of quality to put his side ahead. A physical player with a blonde mohawk, Kabangu was by far Mazembe's most dangerous threat, firing three other shots on target including one in the opening minutes that caught Renan by surprise.

Once the frenetic Mazembe celebrations died down, Internacional went back on the attack but shot after shot was denied by the inspirational Kidiaba and Kaluyituka took advantage of the spaces left behind in the Brazilians' defense to wrap up the win.

Blatter under fire

LONDON (AP) A leading international gay rights group demanded an official apology from FIFA on Tuesday following Sepp Blatter's comment about homosexual fans traveling to Qatar for the 2022 World Cup.

The president of the world soccer governing body said Monday that gay fans "should refrain from any sexual activities" during the World Cup in Qatar, where homosexual behavior is illegal.

Juris Lavrikovs, communications director for the European branch of the International Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans and Intersex Association, said the comments were "very unfortunate and have left people deeply offended."

"I think they should come out with a strong statement and not just wash it away," Lavrikovs said. "We are talking about a very basic human right that is being violated."

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