The Orlando Pirates shot stopper, Senzo Meyiya saved two penalties to help the Buccaneers knock out TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, Democratic Republic of Congo, despite losing 1-0 in the CAF Champion’s League second leg in the knockout phase of the tournament.
Pirates went through 3-2 on aggregate despite having to face what was described as ‘hostile conditions’ after beating the four-time African Champions League kings from the Democratic Republic of Congo 3-1 in Soweto in their previous encounter.
The home side had Pirates on the ropes in the beginning stages of the game, as they applied immense pressure on the visiting team’s back four.
Goalkeeper Senzo Meyiwa displayed great heroics as he punched, fisted and saved all the shots coming his way from Mazembe protecting his team’s goal mouth.
The Pirates captain Lucky Lekgwathi was unfairly shown a red card in a 50/50 situation, which placed the team in a vulnerable state. However the visitors refused to throw in the towel and showed great resilience throughout the whole game.
“It is unfortunate people back home in South Africa could not watch the match, it was bad in terms of everything,” said Lekgwathi. “Some of these things are killing African soccer. We came here expecting such things, including poor refereeing. We were mentally and psychologically strong. I hope CAF will act against some of these people who are bringing shame to our sport.” continued the outraged captain.
As if Lekwathi’s sending off was not bad enough, Mazembe were awarded controversial penalties but Meyiwa stood up to the tasks as he blocked both spot kicks. Speaking from Congo, Pirates’ head of administration Senzo Mazingisa was furious with the treatment meted out to them.
“The treatment was bad. Our technical staff were harassed, our dressing room was left wide open. You can write a book about some of these things. We had our captain Lucky sent off for no apparent reason. Senzo also saved two penalties,” said Mazingisa.
He added, “Prior to the start of the game, people here were able to speak English. When the game started, they started communicating with us in French, clearly to frustrate us. We hope for the best getting out of this country. We are grateful to the South African embassy here, they have been very supportive.”
Another issue that was faced by the South Africans was that the match was not shown live on SABC after some of their crew members were kicked out of the stadium, as one of the members was allegedly arrested by the Congolese police.
“We were informed our crew was kicked out of the stadium. Pirates chairman Dr Irvin Khoza intervened, and we were allowed to go back in,” said SABC group spokesman Kaizer Kganyago. “Later they stopped the feed despite the fact that we agreed with the local broadcaster some weeks ago to televise the game. We really wanted to show the match live on television.”