Kaizer Chiefs will need their players to step up to the occasion when they host Wydad AC in the return leg of the semi-finals. Mihlali Baleka looks at who can help Amakhosi make history.
JOHANNESBURG – KAIZER Chiefs are a match away from reaching their first ever Caf Champions League final. But despite their narrow 1-0 advantage from the first leg, they will need players to step up to the occasion when they host Wydad AC in the return leg of the semi-finals.
We pick five players who can deliver a final for the first time at Naturena:
BRUCE BVUMA – GOALKEEPER
Bvuma was the hero when Chiefs achieved the improbable by defeating Wydad in the first leg away from home. The 26-year-old goalkeeper didn’t keep a clean sheet because Wydad were lacklustre upfront on the day.
Instead, it was due to his exceptional goalkeeping and coordinated defensive organisation that ensured that Chiefs earned a vital clean sheet away from home.
However, it is in tomorrow’s game where another Bvuma clean sheet will be key.
BERNARD PARKER – CAPTAIN
Since arriving at Chiefs a decade ago, Parker has played quite a decent number of games in the famous gold and black jersey of the club. But there is no doubt that tomorrow’s match will be ranked as one of his most important games.
We’re 110% focused – Arthur Zwane
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) June 25, 2021
That’s why Parker will have to ensure that he leads with aplomb on and off the pitch.
Parker, who is one of the integral figures at Amakhosi due to his versatility and being the coaches’ mouthpiece, knows that his future at the club could depend on their success in Africa.
WILLARD KATSANDE – MIDFIELDER
Just like his captain, Katsande’s contract is set to expire at the end of the month.
But the bulky Zimbabwean remains adamant that Chiefs’ success on the continent is more important than his future, especially after their shortcomings in the past few seasons.
Katsande was one of the key figures during Chiefs’ win last Saturday, as he bullied Wydad’s midfield and broke up their build-up plays.
At home, Katsande will have to adopt a similar approach, and even more – as he will be responsible for being the link between defence and attack.
SAMIR NURKOVIC – STRIKER
After recovering from an injury towards the end of the year, Nurkovic was expected to be included in Chiefs’ matchday squad, immediately. But that wasn’t the case as rumours surfaced that he wasn’t happy at the club amid interest from Egyptian giants Al Ahly.
Despite the matter being resolved with Chiefs, according to reports, Nurkovic has failed to replicate last season’s exploits.
But it was his important goal that gave them the win away in Morocco last week. And that’s why he will be hoping to build on that momentum at home.
LEONARDO CASTRO – STRIKER
Considering that he is among a handful of players who have reached this stage of the competition – with their previous employers – Castro’s experience will be important against Wydad. This is a club he has faced on the continent a few times.
Of course, Castro is not as young as he was when he won the Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016.
But his experience upfront is still valuable. He will have to ensure that, together with Nurkovic, they bring their scoring boots and trouble Wydad’s defence.