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From fixed Covid-19 tests to kit man getting beat up, Amazulu coach Benni McCarthy exposes Congolese gamesmanship!

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Oct 27, 2021

Amazulu made club history when they managed to qualify for the CAF Champions League group stages. 

Amazulu’s 1-1 draw saw them clinching their maiden CAF Champions League group stages qualification. 

Amazulu home leg ended goalless

Both Amazulu and DR Congo giants TP Mazembe played to a goalless draw in the South African leg of the tie, meaning that, Amazulu’s goal was enough to send them through to the CAF Champions League group stages as well as eliminated TP Mazembe on the away goals rule.

Benni McCarthy reveals gamesmanship

The battle may have been won on the field of play by Amazulu but their coach Benni McCarthy has since revealed that, their real battle had already started off the field. Before they even took to the field against Mazembe, Amazulu were already in the wars immediately upon their arrival in the DR Congo.

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“The treatment that we (Amazulu) got was out of this world, never seen, never heard of, never done in football,” McCarthy told Thabiso Mosia on SAFMSportOn.

McCarthy went on to admit that the Amazulu players even feared for their safety while in the DR Congo. As well as what would happen if they went on to play and defeat TP Mazembe 

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“Where every single player in the team was scared to go on and play and even think that if we’re winning the game, whether we’re even allowed to leave. If we will even see our families again. That’s how scared you feel when you go there” McCarthy said

McCarthy was also of the impression that Amazulu wouldn’t get harsh treatment, because of their relatively smaller stature on the continent, but boy was he wrong! 

Laments TP Mazembe got royal treatment in South Africa

“I was trying to prepare the team as best as possible as I can. I thought because it’s only AmaZulu, a team which (they think) won’t cause a thread to them, they would still be humble and be fair, because the treatment that they got when they came to South Africa, we treated them like royalty.

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“We gave them everything to their disposal, they didn’t have a single problem, we put them in a beautiful hotel, the best facilities, you know. And there was never a moment where we made them feel like they should be uncomfortable or they should leave South Africa” continued McCarthy 

Covid-19 testing scandal

McCarthy then explains that everything was fine in the DR Congo until the day of the Covid-19 testing.

“We said we’ve done two Covid tests upon arrival and prior to arriving in Congo and every single one was negative.The one day later you test again and one player, they (TP Mazembe) identified Tapelo Xoki as a tough opponent when we played them at home already, I was asked a few questions about him and then when we go there, he tests positive. That’s when it started.” McCarthy recalls.

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“In the morning, we had to wake up Xoki early in the morning to go back to the lab and we had to take two more tests with the lab in Congo and those tests came back negative and then we said ‘no listen, we going to launch a complaint’ because I don’t think it is right that they get to do that for them to disturb our camp with their agenda.” McCarthy continued.

Complaint filed by Amazulu

McCarthy confirms that the mind games from TP Mazembe even forced him to make a selection change. 

“So we filed a complaint and then when we arrived at the stadium and when we communicated to them they we are going to play under protest and they they say ‘on no, Xoki is fine, we don’t have a problem with him playing’. But then the player was already disturbed and I couldn’t do that to the boy, so I took him out of the team and I didn’t play him. “Because now all of a sudden, 20 minutes before the match they said he can play, that’s how it was.” He continued. 

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As if that wasn’t enough drama for McCarthy to deal with, the battle continued when TP Mazembe staff members tried to break into the Amazulu dressing room and steal valuables.

Physical fight and attempted robbery

“As the game was being played, a bunch of their staff members broke into our changing room and beating up the kit man and our security people, “They wanted to confiscate some of the staff, so there was a major fight, in our dressing room, their staff members came in and wanted to take valuables out of the players bags and it was like a big tussle, a big fight.” McCarthy said .

Looking on the bright side

However, in retrospect McCarthy looks at the positives that can be taken out of the experience for Amazulu. 

“So that was not nice but (we said) we will show them we’re not going to be intimidated by anyone, so when we’re on that field that’s when we do the talking. We said ‘now we’re going to make them pay’ because we can’t let them get away with it and then they knock us out of the Champions League, so the players had extra to play for and they were just remarkable.”

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McCarthy also warned fellow DStv Premiership rivals Marumo Gallants, who have been drawn against TP Mazembe in the second preliminary round of the CAF Confederations Cup

“So I must give a warning to Marumo Gallants, when they do go to TP Mazembe, make sure that you travel with proper, proper security.” McCarthy concluded.

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