Beating Neymar & Finding Form – Why Phiri Didn’t Want To Face Mothiba… Yet
Lebogang Phiri has found a new lease of life under Jocelyn Gourvennec, and after beating Neymar’s Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday he says they’re targeting a spot in the final.
Phiri played the whole game for EA Guingamp on Wednesday evening as they secured a 2-1 win over a star-studded PSG in the Coupe de la Ligue, becoming the first French team to beat them this season and the first club to get a victory at Parc des Princes since May last year.
The French giants were on a 44-game unbeaten run in domestic cup games until Guingamp came along to spoil the party, and Phiri will now be looking forward to their semifinal against Thierry Henry's Monaco.
Speaking to the Siya crew after the victory, the 24-year-old Bafana Bafana international said, “The night was surreal… As much as I’m a player playing in the Ligué 1, I don’t get many opportunities such as these to play against players who are competing at the highest level both individually in the form of Ballon d'Or contender and collectively in prestigious tournaments such as the World Cup and Champions League.
“We were the so-called underdogs but managed to grind out a result down to our hard work and discipline in Wednesday’s match. We followed the plan that was given to us and believed in it, as we knew how much it was a mismatch to play against PSG.
Gourvennec has managed to turn things around for the club of late, with wins over PSG, Nice, Monaco and Stade Pontivy seeing them progress in two cup competitions as well as get some points on the board in Ligue 1.
Phiri, who has been a regular starter recently, said, “I’m proud to be a part of a team that ended a 44-game unbeaten streak in cup games, and I take great pleasure in last night’s victory as I managed to get another full game under my belt with our new coach, a coach who’s shown confidence in me.
“The last three matches have resulted in 3 victories against big clubs which is one thing I can be proud because I partook in all of them.”
There was a chance that Phiri could face Lebo Mothiba’s Strasbourg in the semi-finals, however he admits he’s happy not to have done so, saying, “Potentially we might've met Lebo in the semis, but If I were to be the one to roll the dice I’d hoped for it to be in a way that gives us both the opportunity to meet in the final, therefore we would’ve both helped represent our country with great excellence.
“It would also give one of us the chance to win such a tournament, which would make the other just as happy because he is my little brother that I take great pleasure in helping where needed, both on and off the pitch. Knowing him, he takes me as a big brother and wants me to do great just as I wish the best for him. He’s an exceptional player.”