Kaizer Chiefs forward Matthew Rusike believes Amakhosi can stun AS Vita this evening and overturn a three-goal deficit to qualify for the group stages of the CAF Champions League.
Apart from their Mandela Cup win in 2001, Chiefs’ record on the continent has been decidedly poor for a club of their stature. And they have left themselves with a Herculean task at FNB Stadium (kick-off 7pm) after losing the first leg in Kinshasa 3-0 last Sunday.
“Football is a funny game, stranger things have happened,” was Rusike’s take on the possibility of Amakhosi turning the tables this evening.
“We are drilled well, we are working hard to overturn the deficit and we will give it our all.”
Rusike was a second-half substitute in Kinshasa, where Chiefs created enough chances to take more from the game, but the Harare-born 23-year-old is not one to dwell on the past.
“I don’t think it (3-0) was a true reflection of the game, but football is about results and they got three goals … now they have to come and play on our patch.”
Rusike’s game-time has been a little limited this season, as might be expected with Chiefs boasting more prolific, experienced strikers like Bernard Parker and Knowledge Musona. He has just two goals this season, one coming in the Champions League, against Liga Muculmana in the last round.
“I am happy to contribute to the team whether I am sitting on the bench, in the stands or in the starting line-up,” said Rusike.
“I am there to do a job and at the end of the day, I am here to help Chiefs.”
AS Vita arrived in the country on Wednesday with an 18-man squad, but without right-back Mabele Bawaka. Bawaka, according to the club’s official website, was refused a visa “for acts committed in South Africa in 2012”.
It is unclear what these “acts” were, but Bawaka has been replaced in the Vita squad by Lomanisa Mutambala Joyce.
Vita, like Chiefs, are aiming to make the Champions League group stage for the first time, and will know that a goal at FNB Stadium will most likely kill off the tie, with Chiefs then needing to score five to progress.
In this regard, Amakhosi will have to take better care of Congolese international striker Firmin Ndombe Mubele, who scored a hat-trick in Kinshasa on Sunday.
“We are going to South Africa on Wednesday to acclimatise,” said AS Vita coach Florent Ibenge, according to Congolese newspaper L’Observateur.
“We will have two days of preparation. We travel to South Africa with the aim to qualify … in this perspective, the ideal is to score.
“We cannot leave spaces and allow our opponents to enjoy themselves.”
As for Chiefs, coach Stuart Baxter has acknowledged the importance of an early Amakhosi goal, on an evening when Chiefs have no real option but to go for broke.
In Musona and Parker, Chiefs certainly have two players capable of turning the tables on AS Vita, but the feeling has to be that they may just pay for failing to get that away goal in Kinshasa. - Saturday Star