|Home safe: Senzo Meyiwa and Luck Lekgwathi with Rob tonight|
It's not something you do too often as a football writer. But Robert Marawa's interview with Orlando Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi and goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa tonight on MetroFM was just too good to miss.
Here it is, the chat with Lekgwathi, sent off in the first half of the troubled African Cup of Nations clash at TP Mazembe in the Democratic Republic of Congo, and the heroic Meyiwa, who saved TWO penalties to ensure their survival. The 1-0 defeat ensured progress to the group stages on a 3-2 aggregate win.
With the game blacked out in Lubumbashi, we discover some of the unseen details, the fear of poisoned juice at the hotel, Lucky being forced to stay in the dressing room, Meyiwa's faith in God... and how they only discovered the match hadn't been televised afterwards!
With tears and prayers aplenty, this is how it went:
Lucky: “They welcomed us well, the ambassador was there, we had a safe trip. The hotel was nice, we didn’t have to share rooms! I reckon five star, serious. Nice hotel, it was okay.
“The coach called us for a morning swim. We had to leave hotel at 12noon. Three hours in the stadium! We had a meeting at 11am, we ate. We asked for juice. They said it was finished.
“So we said, we’ll have water. Then they brought juice. We said, don’t drink it. The jug wasn’t sealed. You don’t know what they put inside the juice three hours before the game.
“We just drank water, we went to the stadium. Bottled water from the hotel. Sealed. We went to the stadium. There were police to escort us. Okay, we were singing.
“Roger said we must just forget the supporters. Back to the changing room. The opposition were showing arrogance.
“We started to play. We played very well to start. After 35 minutes, keeper played a long ball. I was in front of Mobutu. He kicked me from behind. The referee ran up and gave me a red card. I asked him why, he just said “kwa kwa”.
“But the players said they would die for me after I’d been sent off.”
Over to Senzo Meyiwa: “Once we got to Lubumbashi, we saw how the supporters are treating the “foreigners”. The hotel was okay. Made some phone calls, sleeping along. Then the issue of the juice, we suspected it was poisoned. We drank water.
“Went to the stadium, they showed us respect the supporters. There was one bang on the bus. We said “hey what’s going on” but it was okay. They gave us the treatment we deserved. They could see we were being robbed.
“What I can say, the referee can be on their side, but God said nothing will change. That gave us strength to make South African supporters proud of us.
“It was not a red card for Lucky. Not even a yellow. He was tackling Lucky. I thought he might give him a coaching, a yellow, but straight red.
“PENALTY NUMBER ONE: that was not a penalty. I told myself, let me do it for the country, for Orlando Pirates supporters, for the country, for the team. We’re in the Congo, we’re doing it for the nation. I told myself: I will do my best.”
Lucky: “After I was sent off I took a shower, then I wanted to go back and watch. They said no. There was a lady who said to us, it’s going to be tough. An old mama. I thought what she said to us.
“So I’d been told I can’t watch. When they told me we won, I started crying. They said Senzo saved two penalties. Juuuus!
“I said, you know what, we won the game because of God.”
Senzo: “They were wearing black and white. I thought they were supporting Orlando Pirates! When you’re playing away games, there’s not as much pressure. You can do anything you want and then you go home.
“I was doing everything. I was not scared of the supporters behind my back. Even the guy, before he kicked the first penalty, I could see myself saving it.
“How did I guess right? Eish, I don’t know. I stood behind the line. So there was no chance of a retake. I just stand there, watch this guy, then I tell him straight: “YOU WON’T SCORE”. He was laughing, I said it again.
“And then I made the save.”
“SECOND PENALTY: I caught it, I could see they wanted to follow up. Before the second one, a yellow card. When they were busy fighting with the referee. I was alone at the goal post. I said: “God, you want us to fail this thing? Please God, give me POWER. I believe in you.
“It was towards the end of the game. And then I cried. God came to me, he said “I know you, you’ll do it.
“The captain, who plays in the national team, he took it this time. He was scared. I go to him. I shout. He saw I was crying. He thought: “This keeper’s mad eh?”
“I thought “come to me” and I managed to save it. I said: YEEEEEES!
“It was one of those penalties where he stopped before he took it. I didn’t even move.
“You know, God was inside me. That was not Senzo Meyiwa. God himself was in me. He saved my team, he saved the nation, he made the nation proud of me.”
Marawa: “I can see the tears welling up in your eyes right now.”
Lucky: “You know what, I was with Rudolf Bester. I told him to close the door of the dressing room so I couldn’t hear them score.
“I was praying, crying, Please God! But before we left South Africa, the old mama, I was playing for her.
Before we left, on the Wednesday, there was a pastor who played for us in Orlando. The Pirate ladies gave me a certificate for “the best captain ever”. They were there, it was a surprise at a lunch.
“The pastor prayed. He said this is for the captain. It was a big motivation for the younger players.
“Thanks to the Orlando Pirates ladies. May God bless them.
“We thought everybody was watching us in Lubumbashi! After the game, they told us the game was not televised, I heard from the girl sitting next to me!”