Le Roy hopes Ghana draw earns his players respect
Claude Le Roy hoped his Congo players would now get the respect and backing he said they deserved from their football federation after a fighting 2-2 draw with title contender Ghana at the African Cup of Nations on Sunday.
Congo came from 2-0 down to win a point in the Group B opener at Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium, and Frenchman Le Roy said it showed his team's worth.
The Congolese players temporarily shrugged off ongoing squabbles with their federation over bonus payments at the tournament to hold one of the African Cup's top teams. And Congo more than matched Ghana's stars, nearly winning at the end to cap a brave fightback in Port Elizabeth.
''They deserve this result because we had some problems,'' Le Roy said.
Le Roy's and his players' battles with their own football leaders reportedly left the coach on the brink of quitting last week, days before Congo's opening match in South Africa.
''I hope at the highest levels in Congo they will now be behind this team as they deserve it,'' the coach said.
The Congolese football federation and sports minister denied reports that Le Roy had handed a resignation letter to a federation representative in Port Elizabeth on Thursday in protest at the national football body's inefficiency in organizing travel logistics for the squad at the Cup of Nations.
Le Roy conceded on Sunday there were problems - as was well-known - but Congo's players were clearly determined to overcome the off-field issues on the pitch.
''To my players, I am very proud of them,'' Le Roy said.
Ghana coach Kwesi Appiah also praised the Congolese, who were dangerous in attack throughout the game but also found the spirit to pick themselves up after going 2-0 down to one of Africa's best teams and the 2010 World Cup quarterfinalist.
''When you got to a first game you expect a win,'' Appiah said. ''Unfortunately we didn't have it today, but they (Congo) are a very good side.''