JOHANNESBURG - The pressure SuperSport United are under in their battle to avoid relegation is a breeze compared to what Richard Boateng experienced in his other stints outside the country of his birth.
The Ghanaian’s ability to keep calm in volatile situations will come in handy for Matsatsantsa a Pitori, who find themselves in this unfamiliar position. Boateng witnessed the start of the 2011 civil war in Libya which led to the capture and killing of Muammar Gaddafi during his time at Al-Ittihad Tripoli.
“My time there wasn’t bad. I enjoyed it up until the war started,” he said. “I was saved by the club. They made sure that everything was well with me, until they realised that it was getting serious and they found a way for me to go back home.”
Boateng returned to Ghana to play for Bekerum Chelsea. In 2012 the plucky Ghanaian side produced the most results in their history in continental football by beating Zamalek and TP Mazembe in the group stage of the Caf Champions League to finish above the White Knights. It was a remarkable run in a group that featured African football royalty Al-Ahly, the Ravens and Zamalek.
Mazembe signed him after that campaign and he went on to win the 2015 Champions League and played in the Fifa Club World Cup.
There might have been no civil war in the Democratic Republic of Congo during his four years there but every match Mazembe took part in was war as all their opponents wanted to upset the five-time African champions.
“Mazembe is a giant in African football,” Boateng said. “The expectations are always high. You have to give your best and you have to make sure you achieve, always. I managed to do that as a young player and achieved something big by winning the Champions League, Confederation Cup and played with the best in the world at the Club World Cup.
“I would like to repeat that with SuperSport, conquer Africa, and then go to the Club World Cup. They almost won the Confederation Cup last year. I will bring my energy and experience to ensure that we win it this year.”
Matsatsantsa will need Boateng’s energy on Wednesday night in their clash with 16-time Kenyan champions Gor Mahia at Lucas Moripe Stadium in the Confederation Cup play-offs, with a place in the group stage up for grabs.
SuperSport have to overturn a 1-0 loss from the first leg, a tough ask for a side who haven’t scored in their last four matches. SuperSport are just one point above the relegation zone with three matches to go.
“Our position in the log is giving everyone a headache,” Boateng said. “We are not happy. We are working very hard to turn things around. It won’t be easy but we will do our best to survive.
“When I was in Mazembe I watched South African football. The standard is high. It was my dream to play in South Africa and my dream is fulfilled. I’ll do everything humanly possible to ensure that that dream doesn’t end in a nightmare.”