A SENSATIONAL plot to fix CAPS United’s biggest game in history, as part of shadowy efforts by the dethroned CAF leadership to help TP Mazembe and punish Zimbabwe for the ZIFA leadership’s spirited efforts to topple Issa Hayatou’s empire, has been exposed in yet another sickening advertisement of the rot which had crept into African football.
The Herald can exclusively reveal today that the old CAF leaders, who were swept away by a tide on a dramatic day of elections in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, yesterday which saw Hayatou’s lengthy hold as African football boss being ended by Ahmad Ahmad, had put in place a sophisticated plan to ensure CAPS United are punished for the sins of their leaders.
The Green Machine shocked the continent when they bravely held the five-time African champions to a 1-1 draw in the first leg of the final round of the qualifiers for the CAF Champions League group phase on Sunday and host their opponents in Harare this weekend needing, at least, a goalless draw to make it into the final phase of the tournament.
However, a well-orchestrated plan had been hatched by the old CAF leaders, who believed they would retain their seats at the elections in Ethiopia yesterday, to ensure Makepekepe pay for the sins of their football leadership by being booted out of the Champions League tomorrow while TP Mazembe proceed to the group stages. ZIFA president Philip Chiyangwa has been at the forefront of leading the campaign against Hayatou, as Ahmad’s election agent, while his board has strongly backed their leader.
TP Mazembe multi-millionaire Moise Katumbi enjoys warm relations with Hayatou and this newspaper can reveal that Sunday’s match was set to be used as part of the scheme to punish Zimbabwe for Chiyangwa’s decision to dare to challenge the old CAF leadership which recently reacted angrily to Ahmad’s move by stripping Madagascar of her rights to host the CAF Under-17 championship.
The old CAF leaders, using their influence in the committee that controls referees on the continent, went for the referee who is known as TP Mazembe’s ‘Mr Fix-It’, Bernard Camille of Seychelles, to handle Sunday’s match between CAPS United and the Congolese giants.
Camille has been accused of being embedded with TP Mazembe and, on May 5, 2013, he was the man at the centre of the controversy when the Congolese giants hosted Orlando Pirates of South Africa in that CAF Champions League eliminator which has since been dubbed as a match-made-in-hell.
The Seychelles referee awarded two controversial penalties to Mazembe in Lubumbashi, with the five-time African champions needing a two-goal winning margin to overturn a first leg 1-3 defeat, but the late Senzo Meyiwa saved both spot-kicks.
The second penalty was given in the last move of a match that spilled into 10 minutes of time added on as Mazembe, then leading 1-0, needed just another goal to ensure qualification for the group stages.
The South African Broadcasting Corporation were forced out of that match, so that they could not capture what was happening, while those with mobile phones were detained.
SAFA ended up launching a complaint with CAF over what they alleged was the poor treatment of their team and its delegation.
“The South African Football Association intends to express its strong dissatisfaction to the Confederation of African Football over the treatment meted out to Orlando Pirates FC,’’ SAFA said in a statement while the head of delegation, Elvis Shishana described it as a “a terrifying experience,” and even claimed “our lives were at risk.’’
“It was very clear from the beginning that they had an agenda, hence they did not want anyone to record the match.’’
Pirates raised concerns over Camille who sent off their captain Lucky Lekgwathi in the first half and then went on to award the hosts two controversial penalties.
“I’ve never seen anything like it in my entire career,’’ the then Pirates coach Roger de Sa told South Africa’s Sowetan newspaper. “It makes me wonder how Mazembe got those four stars on their crest. I’m bitter and shocked that CAF turns a blind eye to these things.’’
Lekgwathi said this was what was destroying football on the continent.
“It is unfortunate people back home in South Africa could not watch the match, it was bad in terms of everything,” said Lekgwathi. “Some of these things are killing African soccer. We came here expecting such things, including poor refereeing.
“I hope CAF will act against some of these people who are bringing shame to our sport. The red card was a joke.”
And Meyiwa described it as a nightmare.
“The refereeing was poor and Lucky Lekgwathi did not deserve the red card. However, fighting spirit kept us in the game,” he said.
Despite all that controversy, CAF also appointed Camille to handle TP Mazembe’s home CAF Confederation Cup game against Medeama of Ghana recently which the Congolese giants won 3-1 in Lubumbashi. And, a few months later, the same official has also been given the role to handle the big match on Sunday in which TP Mazembe are also featuring and need to win to go through.
Camille appears married to Mazembe and sources said there was more than what meets the eye.
He was also involved in a highly controversial match involving Dynamo Malagasy and SMB with the referee being accused of turning “a blind eye to several crunching tackles by Dynamo defenders, warranting more severe sanctions” but showed their opponents’ captain a red card. “There is more to Ben’s appointment than what meets the eye because, at this level of the game, in the old regime, a lot of things happen and you guys have treaded on a minefield,” sources said.
“There is no reason, really, given all the controversy that has followed him, especially when it comes to Mazembe matches, that he should be given the role to handle such an important game but the old guys believed they could do as they wished and no one could challenge them.
‘’Things have changed, after the events in Ethiopia today (yesterday), and it could be a different ball game now but some people feel that his association with Mazembe is too close and, where fairness is needed, he is unlikely to pass the test as a fair judge.