|I feel like Rambo: Roger de Sa after the trip to TP Mazembe|
Orlando Pirates coach Roger De Sa admitted yesterday he felt like “walking away from football” after the extraordinary scenes at TP Mazembe on Sunday.
The gritty 48-year-old saw his side escape from the Democratic Republic of Congo with a 1-0 defeat which sees the Buccaneers go through to the group stages of the African Champions League 3-2 on aggregate.
The game in Lubumbashi saw three SABC operatives detained as Mazembe blanked out coverage of a game which saw Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi sent off and TWO penalties awarded to the home team.
De Sa said: “I feel a bit like Rambo this morning. We expected trouble but nothing like that. I couldn’t sleep last night thinking about it. All the things that happened. What they tried to do to us.
“In the end it’s not about football when you see the way TP Mazembe handled themselves. To be honest, I feel like walking away from the game. If somebody called me and offered me a job outside football I’d take it.
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“But then you calm down, and you realise the national pride in our result. Look, what these people did is bad for the game, it’s bad for Africa."
Pirates made the trip north knowing TP Mazembe president Moise Katumbe Katwe runs the football team and governs the DRC province of Katanga. Buccaneers chairman Irvin Khoza, who also runs the PSL and is a vice-president of SAFA, had assured his side there would be no trouble having had Moise as a house guest just two weeks ago.
But De Sa said: “The intimidation, the officials, the way we were treated. It’s disgusting. Still, we’re through. There must have been a stronger force at work for that to happen.
“I warned the players what would happen. When we got to the ground, it was filled to capacity. They’ve build a great stadium, a huge fan base – so we walked on the pitch in our suits and we absorbed the crowd. They walked around, they sang. We felt no fear.
"I showed the lads videos of what has gone on in games like this before. We were prepared for it.
“But then, when you have referees and officials like that, I mean what can you do? Their first plan was to send off our captain. Then the penalties. Senzo Meyiwa was heroic. We were one goal away from going out.
“What do you do about it? They stopped all coverage of the game on television and radio. They took away the mobile phones so nobody could say anything. In the end the referee’s decision is final and we have nothing to show CAF or FIFA.”
Amid reports that the officials from the Seychelles refused to speak English and TP Mazembe failed to submit a formal team sheet, it appears further action should be taken but De Sa sighed: “We’ve known about this kind of thing for years.
“I just find it unbelievable things like this can happen. Some people there actually think it’s right to do these things, to win at all costs.
“It can’t be right. But we gradually built up to this. To be honest when we went to Zambia in the last round there were signs of it. Now we go to the group stages, and we’ll soldier on.
“I have to say all the lads were heroes. They played so well. At one point we even considered walking off when the penalties were awarded.
“But we stuck it out. And we’re through. I hope I can sleep tonight.”