Africa: Our Most Important Preparation for the Final Was ‘Recovery’, Says RS Berkane Coach

120 minutes couldn’t separate the two teams, hence, the winner had to be decided by the lottery of penalty kicks.

The CAF Confederation Cup has a new champion, the Moroccan side RS Berkane.

The journey of 49 teams from 37 associations ended on Friday night at the Godswill Akpabio Stadium, Uyo, when the two finalists, RS Berkane and Orlando Pirates clashed for the ultimate prize.

However, 120 minutes couldn’t separate the two teams and the winner was decided on penalties. The game ended 5-4, in favour of the Moroccan side.

Meanwhile, Berkane coach, Congolese Jean-Florent Ibenge told journalists during the press conference he had lost two finals before and wouldn’t have seen himself losing another.

“I’m proud because it isn’t easy to win the final. I lost two finals before it will be really hard for me to lose another one.

“I’m glad for my team, for my staff, for my family, and for the Moroccan people and I’m happy for the victory.”

During the question and answer session, Coach Ibenge was asked what proved to be the most important preparation while coming for the final. The former Congo DR manager said it was recovery.

“Our preparation – I think it was like Orlando Pirates. The most important preparation for us was recovery.

Ibenge’s eyes showed how excited he was winning the trophy even when his contract with the club had a limited time of operation.

“Because we played against TP Mazembe and after that, you have to recover. As to recovery, you fly. You come here for two days, we just have to recover yourself and play the game.”

Berkane scored in the 97th minute from a spot by Youssef Alfahli while a last-minute screamer from Thembinkosi Christopher ensured the need for spot-kicks.

Pirates were made to rue fluffed goal-scoring chances, both in the 90 minutes and in extra time. Even when I don’t usually believe the word luck in football, last night’s game gave me a rethink to consider that word.

Football can be a cruel game at times.

Christopher, who saved the day with a late equaliser, was then the one to miss in the ensuing penalty kicks to hand the trophy to RS Berkane.

After the agonising loss, Pirates’ Coach Mandal Ncikazi said during the post-match conference that unable to rewind time, they would use what they learned to get better in the future.

“I’m very sad for our team. We lost the final, we lost the match that we shouldn’t have lost.

“It’s a match that we should have won in normal time. We created so many chances. We dominated the match we don’t just know what was important putting the ball into the net.

“I feel for the players, I feel for the team, it is what it is right now, we can’t change.

“My disappointing part is that it isn’t a final or a match we should have lost because we dominated and created chances but football is like that.”

The wait for another continental title for Pirates will be 28, next season.


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