Kaizer Chiefs tipped the scales in their favour with their 1-0 win over Wydad Casablanca in the Caf Champions League semifinal first leg on Saturday. Going to the second leg at FNB Stadium this Saturday, Chiefs have to be slight favourites to advance to the final.
Their one goal advantage means the visitors from Casablanca will have to win in Johannesburg to go to the final. Some may still see Chiefs as underdogs, given the reputation Wydad have on the continent, and the fact that just as home ground advantage in Casablanca didn’t count as much without the fans, the same could be said for Johannesburg on Saturday.
Chiefs, however, have shown all season that when it comes to the Champions League they are more than capable of toppling a giant. We look at three reasons why Chiefs could finish the job at FNB Stadium.
- In Casablanca, at Stade Mohammed V, Chiefs didn’t play. They just closed down their opponent and ensured they couldn’t play. That was a master plan indeed and it worked out perfectly. Their display didn’t give Wydad much information about Chiefs. All they know for now is that Arthur Zwane’s side can defend, and do it well for 90 minutes.
Wydad will also know is that Kaizer Chiefs have a goalkeeper, in Bruce Bvuma, who is perfectly capable of keeping them at bay, if Itumeleng Khune and Daniel Akpeyi are still on the sidelines.
Wydad will not know if Chiefs will opt for Khune this time around for his accurate distribution, to catch them with counter attacks, or if they will go with the physically imposing and dominant Akpeyi, or keep with the industrious Bvuma.
- With their self-restricted display, Kaizer Chiefs did not attack much in Casablanca. In fact, they only had Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro as attackers in the starting line-up. What Wydad may not know is that Amakhosi can be more fluid and play some enterprising football too. With Lebogang Manyama expected to be fit for the second leg, and Khama Billiat also a possibility, Chiefs could play a different game all together.
Wydad will just have to guess and that is good because it will limit their preparations as they will have to be reactionary in their approach to the game. They will have to see what Kaizer Chiefs come out with on the day Wydad will have to push for a goal and that could leave gaps at the back for Chiefs to exploit too.
- When Wydad played Chiefs in the group stages, they dismissed them as just another team they will not have to deal with again. This is why they sent out a second-string team for the return leg in Johannesburg after they had won the home leg 4-0. Even their head coach, Faouzi Benzarti didn’t make the trip. Of course there were Covid-19 concerns back then, but the situation has not changed and may have in fact got worse now.
With many regulars missing that game, they lost out on the chance of sizing Kaizer Chiefs up in their own backyard and getting the feel of FNB Stadium. All this also works in Amakhosi’s favour.