SuperSport United are gearing up for their maiden Caf Confederation Cup final as they are set to lock horns with the reigning champions TP Mazembe in the first leg on Sunday afternoon.
The first leg encounter which will be played at the Ravens’ base in Lubumbashi, has become a slaughterhouse for Mazembe due to the hostile atmosphere which awaits away teams. But like SuperSport learnt earlier in the tournament that despite the hostilities which welcomed them on arrival at the Stade TP Mazembe being the Congolese giants greatest weapon, the same ardent fans could just as easily turn on their own players if things are not going their way.
This is the tactic which SuperSport's Thuso Phala has indicated the club will use on Sunday to level the playing field.
“We are going to go to Mazembe and turn the crowd against them,” Phala was quoted by The Star as saying.
“When you have a big support base and those fans are used to winning, they turn against you quickly when things aren’t going well. We have seen that happen even here at home. We have to go there, play good football and turn their fans against them, which would be to our advantage," he elaborated.
Meanwhile, not many would have given SuperSport a chance at reaching the final when the tournament first began earlier in the year, but the Tshwane-based outfit have showed immense courage and determination, making them a dangerous prospect. But Phala believes Mazembe will be wary of this, this time around.
“I think we had a tougher route to the final than Mazembe,” Phala said.
“They will be wary of us even though they will be playing at home. We must use that to our advantage. We want an away goal. We aren’t going to sit back and say: 'Ah, we are playing against the mighty Mazembe, so we need to be cautious’. We will attack them and look for that goal,” he explained.
Phala also adds that while playing on the African continent is difficult, the hostilities can easily be overcome with a strong mentality.
“I think sometimes we tend to make a meal of ‘hostile environments’,” Phala added.
“You can go somewhere and your flight is delayed, something that the team you’re facing has nothing to do with. But because you have the mind-set that everyone is out to get you, you start panicking thinking that this is part of their plans to unsettle you.
"When we went to Liberia, we couldn’t land and had to fly around for two hours. We were able to endure that because we are mentally stronger. We went to Tunisia and had an experience of a lifetime with the crowd that we played in front of, which we don’t get here. They didn’t intimidate us but made us stronger. The lasers and everything else was there but we still won 3-1. It’s all in the mind,” he concluded.