Phala psyched to enter the cauldron

As they head into this weekend’s CAF Confederation Cup final first leg against defending champions TP Mazembe in Lubumbashi, Matsatsantsa winger Thuso Phala is relishing taking the field at a heaving Stade TP Mazembe.

The only time SuperSport get healthy crowds is when they contest domestic knockout competition finals or when they meet one of the 'Big Three' clubs of Kaizer Chiefs, Orlando Pirates and Tshwane rivals Mamelodi Sundowns.

So if you think they are dreading being in front of the hostile Mazembe supporters, then think again.

“At SuperSport we don’t get the chance to play in front of such big crowds at home. We know it’s going to be packed when we go to Mazembe,” Phala said earlier this week.

“The atmosphere is something we never get in South Africa. It’s not hostile, it’s an experience of a lifetime. We were in Tunisia [against Club Africain] and I have never played in such a ground in my career. There were lazers, but we still won 3-1. It’s all in the mind. I would love to play in front of such crowds. This is something we look forward to because we want to play in front of big crowds. We look at it as a positive.”

South African clubs typically complain about the treatment they receive on the continent from the hotels they stay in, the food they eat to the pitches they train on. But Phala believes it’s over-exaggerated.

“I think sometimes we make a meal of it. You can go somewhere and the flight gets delayed. That’s something the [opposition] team has nothing to do with but we will start thinking it’s the another team.

“When we went to Liberia, we could not land at the airport and we had to fly in the air for like two hours without a place to land. I don’t know if the team we were playing against had anything to do with that, but we start thinking it’s them.”