JOHANNESBURG – Kaizer Chiefs showed a never-say-die attitude to come-back-from-behind twice and draw the game 2-2 with Horoya Athletic Club at the General Lansana Conte Stadium on Saturday night in Conakry, as they progressed to quarterfinals of the Caf Champions League.
This result ensured that Chiefs finished second in Group C with nine points, on a head-to-head ruling, level with third-placed Horoya and four points behind group leaders Wydad Casablanca who defeated bottom-place finishers Petro de Luanda 2-0 in the other game.
Amakhosi became the second team from the PSL to reach this stage of the competition this season after Mamelodi Sundowns who finished top of Group B with 13 points, thanks to four wins, one draw and one loss against runners-up CR Belouizdad.
In the wake of playing such a crucial encounter, Chiefs were without goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and striker Samir Nurkovic who both received their marching orders during last weekend’s win over Wydad at home.
Coach Gavin Hunt, then, opted for Itumeleng Khune in goals, while Khama Billiat led the striking contingent. However, it was Nkosingiphile Ngcobo who tested the waters first for Chiefs, unleashing a hard and low cross that sailed wide off goal.
Horoya, though, came close to finding the breakthrough but Yakhouba Barry unceremoniously put his glancing header on top of the crossbar. The two sides arrived at the half-an-hour mark still deadlocked with only a handful of chances created.
Soon thereafter, Horoya had another chance to grab the lead from a well-executed corner-kick but their finishing in front of goal let them down. That was before Boniface Haba saw his pin-point header from a corner-kick saved off the line by Khune.
But after a string of corner-kicks deep into stoppage time, Barry broke the deadlock after rattling the roof of the net with a glancing header from a corner-kick, leaving the South Africans with a lot of work to do in the second half in order to keep their hopes of reaching the quarterfinals alive.
However, it was the home side that started the last stanza on a high note as they sent forays into Chiefs’ final third. But Chiefs remained resolute, despite pressing for the equaliser which would prove enough to see them through to the next round.
The introduction of Dumisani Zuma made an immediate impact, though, after he forced a penalty with a handball. Daniel Cardoso stepped up to take the responsibility and rattled the roof of the net. But that didn’t last long as Guineans regained their lead.
Sekou Camara scored his team’s second with a thumping header after a delightful corner-kick. Chiefs, though, didn’t drop their heads as they ensured that they drew level once again – Billiat side footing home a close-range effort after being teed up by Zuma.
Khune, though, made a last-minute-gasp save from close-range to ensure that Amakhosi reached the Promised Land – the quarterfinals – for their first time in their 51-year existence. They finish second in Group C after one win, three draws and one defeat!