Kaizer Chiefs continue to live the 'African Dream'
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CAPE TOWN – Kaizer Chiefs continue to live the 'African Dream' after they extended their fairy-tale run in the CAF Champions League by defeating Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca over the weekend in the semi-final first leg.
The upset win was mainly thanks to a heroic performance by goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma.
Wydad, with an overwhelming 80% possession in the match, literally ran at the Chiefs defence all evening. There has been a vast improvement in Chiefs’ defence, especially in central positions. However, when Wydad found openings that allowed them to strike in the firing zone, Chiefs defenders pounced quickly to close them down.
Whatever came his way, Bvuma stood like a colossus between the sticks and denied Wydad all evening to come away with a clean sheet.
Chiefs will need Bvuma to produce another performance like this to survive on Saturday evening at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg if they harbour dreams of making further history by reaching the 2021 final.
Not too long ago, Bvuma was third in the goalkeeping pecking order at Chiefs where Nigerian Daniel Akpeyi and Itumeleng Khune were the preferred goalmouth custodians. The former coach Gavin Hunt promoted Bvuma when the first choices were hit by injuries, rank poor form and suspensions.
With limited exposure, Bvuma grabbed his chance with both hands and now enjoys cult status among the AmaKhosi fans. Given their rank poor run on the domestic front, no one would have given Chiefs a chance to reach the play-offs, never mind the semi-finals.
At the final whistle on Saturday evening, Bvuma slumped to the ground in front of the posts, before he was helped to his feet by two teammates. Afterwards, he said he was overcome by emotion as he realised the enormity of winning in Morocco. No South African team have ever beaten Wydad in Morocco. The result also snapped Wydad's 10-match unbeaten run.
Afterwards, Bvuma said he was thrilled with the clean sheet, his second on the trot in Africa's premier club competition.
“Everyone gave 100 %," said Bvuma. "I am happy with the result and with the clean sheet.
"We know it is not over, and it is only halfway. We have to keep going and work hard.”
Before setting off on the return journey to Johannesburg, stand-in coach Arthur Zwane also referred to Bvuma's clean sheet.
"We’ve done what we came here to do. We kept a clean sheet, and we wanted a goal or two," said Zwane.
Chiefs pull off heroic away win over Wydad— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) June 20, 2021
Against the odds, Chiefs stunned the home team, who had not been beaten in six previous home games against South African opposition. https://t.co/y0dvWuTS76#Amakhosi4Life #TotalCAFCL
“The one (goal) is okay. They will open up a bit when they come to play us, and we will try and punish them. We have another 90 minutes, but it will be difficult.
“We have the second leg back home in Johannesburg, and we will try and finish it off there. We were very disciplined, and we hope to keep a clean sheet at home as well."
New coach Stuart Baxter was not in the dugout on Saturday, but he did travel with the team. Zwane confirmed afterwards that Baxter did have input in the game plan for the match.