Kaizer Chiefs never doubted their ability in the Champions League
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JOHANNESBURG – It was not a surprise to the players that they led Kaizer Chiefs to their first ever semi-finals round in the Caf Champions League. In fact, their captain admits that they didn’t allow their Pan-African campaign to be defined by their struggles in domestic football.
“We are not surprised (that we got to this stage of the competition),” Chiefs' skipper Bernard Parker told the media on Friday afternoon. “Reason why: we know ourselves in terms of the quality and strength that we have. The games, (locally and continentally), were different.”
He added: “It was also two different leagues. So, I won’t say that it was a surprise but it was sort of a mental issue. When things don’t go well, it’s very hard to dig yourself out of the ground. When we were doing well on the continent, that was motivational.”
After squandering the top position, on the local league standings, on the last day of the term two seasons ago, Chiefs were a shadow of themselves in the recently concluded campaign. They finished eighth - resulting in the dismissal of coach Gavin Hunt.
However, despite finishing the domestic season trophyless, Chiefs punched above their weight under Hunt in Africa. He guided them to their first ever group stage, knockout stage and semi-finals round in the Champions League - since their inception 51 years ago.
In the first leg of their semi-finals round, they also achieved the improbable: defeating two-time African champions Wydad 1-0 in their own backyard. But Chiefs will be hoping to get the job done when they host the Moroccan giants at the FNB Stadium this evening.
“Wydad are a big team. But so are Chiefs,” Parker said. “It’s just that they’ve done well in their domestic league and we’ve had a little hiccup. But we find ourselves, pound for pound, facing each other in the Champions League. They beat us once, and we’ve beaten them twice.”
He added: “But we’ll face them again, and that’s why it’s important that we are aware of the situation. But we, as the players, need to keep our mentality and positivity in a good state – during the match. We are happy, and that will allow us to perform to our best.”