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CAF Confederation Cup

Caf Confederation Cup: Franco on Simba SC's 'juju' rituals before Orlando Pirates game

5:12 PM IST 25/04/22
Simba SC players in South Africa.
The Wekundu wa Msimbazi were seen performing rituals before they lost on penalties to the Buccaneers at Orlando Stadium

Simba SC coach Pablo Franco Martin has distanced himself from the “rituals” conducted by his players before their Caf Confederation Cup return leg fixture against South Africa’s Orlando Pirates on Sunday.

The Wekundu wa Msimbazi shocked many before the game as they took to the centre circle of Orlando Stadium before kick-off and formed a circle. However, minutes later, smoke was seen billowing from the players’ legs, which caught the eyes of Pirates officials, who were also on the pitch.

After finishing, Pirates officials were seen pouring water on the scene to "clear the rituals' but despite the incident, the Buccaneers emerged winners after a 4-3 win on penalties.

While Simba had won the first leg 1-0 in Tanzania, Pirates recovered to avenge the loss and register a 1-0 win to take the game into extra time and then penalties.

It was Pirates goalkeeper Richard Ofori from Ghana, who was the team’s hero, as he saved one shot and converted the final kick to send his team into the semis of the competition for the first time since 2015.

What did Franco say?

“To be honest, I heard something but I was not there. I was in the dressing room,” he said when asked by iDiski Times’ about the incident. “Your colleague spoke about East Africa, but I think those things happen in all [of] Africa.

“This juju, this superstition, it’s not anything different than that. I also can talk about the holes in the penalty spots or in the corners, part of the field that you cannot use the day before.

“Here [in Africa] many of you are playing these mind-games. This is something from where I’m coming from [Spain], it’s impossible to see. I’m not going to say that I like it, but to be honest, to burn something I think it’s not going to help anyone. It’s just a matter of superstition.

“Some are singing and some other teams are playing or whatever, there are [mind-] games like this or superstitions like this or beliefs like this and I think there are more important things than these things. I think there are more important things to talk about.”

Pirates will now face Al Ahly Tripoli in the semi-finals after the Libyan outfit defeated Al-Ittihad 1-0 on aggregate on Sunday.