Robson Sharuko — TP MAZEMBE’S French coach Thierry Froger has heaped praise at CAPS United, describing the Green Machine as a quality side being driven by a raw determination to succeed in the 2017 CAF Champions League, ahead of the two teams’ decisive showdown in Harare on Sunday.The Frenchman, in a brutally honest analysis of the first leg which ended 1-1 in Lubumbashi on Sunday, told the five-time African champions to accept they were playing a side high on quality and raging with the hunger to make a huge impression in the continent’s flagship inter-club tournament.
Makepekepe are celebrating the 20th anniversary of their CAF Champions League dance after having made their bow in this tournament, exactly 20 years ago, by beating Express of Uganda.
Froger has also lifted the lid on the anarchy in the TP Mazembe camp by revealing that key players have been behaving badly and just expecting to make the team based on their profiles and reputations.
“I think players need to understand that wearing the TPM shirt is not enough, we have to prove it on the field by making an effort,” the Frenchman told the club an interview carried on their official Facebook page.
“There were situations where no player followed up, for example, the shot that struck the post and the three balls punched back into play by their (CAPS United) goalkeeper.
“What we need to understand after this draw is that we played a team that has quality, but above all, that showed a motivation more important than ours.”
Froger’s candid interview reveals the ugly side of a club being devoured by internal strife, indiscipline and rebellion among those who support them and expect them to win such matches.
The Frenchman was also asked why he preferred youngsters like Arsene Zola and Kevin Mundeko to seasoned players Jean Kasusula and Joel Kimwaki.
“In preparing for the first leg, Joel Kimwaki and Jean Kasusula missed an appointment, they went their own way and they were very bad during an internal enquiry,” said the coach.
“They acknowledged it and apologised to the group afterwards.
“The young people showed qualities and deserved to be retained. By dismissing the elders, I did not say that I no longer need these two players. I just need exemplary behaviour.
“I am surprised to hear some remarks and I ask in return — why have two training centres and not have these young people play in the professional team?
“Today, supporters must accept the fact that the future is also being prepared. It is neither the young nor their elders who are to blame after this draw, it is just the state of mind. During any preparations, the players must respect the schedules, the rules of life and must be available. Those who do not will not play.
“The result is not good. I did not like the start of the game because we conceded a goal on the first opportunity. I also did not like the fact of seeing this avalanche of opportunities not finished during both halves.”
He also explained why he made some changes later in the game.
“In my work today (on Sunday), there was only one advanced attacker. Since this attacker had made a lot of effort, I had to find solutions. Today, there was only one true striker on the axis, but I cannot invent attackers,” said the Frenchman.
“We had tried with Meschak Elia in the championship, against Lubumbashi Sport, while Adama Traore was ill. In front against CAPS United, we tried again, pity that we did not achieve the expected result.
“It should be mentioned that the players who entered the game tried to give it their maximum effort. When the team has a bad result, it’s everyone’s responsibility. Obviously, I have my share of responsibility. We have no choice in Harare, we have to win. We must focus our preparation on the desire to raise our level of play.
“The players who will appear on the field in Harare must prove that they have the level to play for TPM, it was not the case for all of them on Sunday.
“In Lubumbashi, it was believed that it would be easy simply by appearing before our fans who would make a difference. It does not happen anymore, in the world, and Barcelona-PSG is an illustration of what can happen in football.
“In Harare, the solution is to reach the quarter-final and, first of all, we need to have the will to score.”
The Frenchman also spoke about the club’s fans with thousands of them expected to converge in Harare and turn the giant stadium into a sea of black-and-white colours.
“The public does what it wants. They have two options — either they push the team for 90 minutes, or show their discontent following a player or coach’s behaviour, it’s their right,” said Froger.
“I signed a contract to come to train players, after that there is an audience that comes to help. We’ll try to get them back.
“I understand their dissatisfaction even though many of those who were at the stadium encouraged their team.”
A number of fans turned against their team in Lubumbashi after its failure to beat the Green Machine.
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Publish date : 15 March 2017 | 7:40 am