Kaizer Chiefs tear up the script and achieve the improbable at a Ghost Town
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JOHANNESBURG – It was so unfortunate that it had to happen in a Ghost Town. But this is an event that has brought the country into a frenzy. And that's probably why this will be one of the remarks that you can expect from the president's speech during his national address on Sunday night.
Chiefs have done the improbable. They wrote their names in the history books by reaching their first ever Caf Champions League final, and that is why their post-match celebrations were so emotional.
Chiefs are the most followed club in South African football. But they achieved the improbable in front of an empty stadium, having won the away match before holding the Moroccans to a goalless draw at home.
Saturday’s result can also be seen as some sort of redemption following a lacklustre domestic season which saw them finishing eighth, resulting in the dismissal of coach Gavin Hunt late last month.
But it’s perhaps when they have ‘doubting Thomases’ that Chiefs appear to prevail. Kudos to them for honouring the script to the ‘Peace and Loving Nation’, who were with them in spirit when they showed their insignia before kick-off, as they have something to cheer about.
Chiefs have often been subjected for not taking continental competitions seriously enough as their only triump came in the Caf Confederation Cup back in 2001, while they never progressed beyond the group stages in the Champions League.
But, they are quickly learning the tricks of the competition.
History was, subsequently, achieved. It must have felt sweeter to the club and newly appointed coach Stuart Baxter who was on his feet for the duration of the game, while he also had a brief talk with the team’s head of technical Molefi Ntseki during the interval.
Ntseki, for the first time, had sat out on the bench for Saturday night’s encounter, with the former Bafana Bafana coach adding more knowledge to those of interim coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard, who were standing in for Baxter, who’s yet to receive his work permit.
Whatever awaits Chiefs in the final remains a mystery. But there'll be no doubt that they’ve shut their detractors up, and proven why they are one of the top three teams in South African football. After all, it’s only rivals Pirates and Sundowns have reached this stage of the competition before.
Chiefs have proven that even without the backing of their 12th man, impossible is nothing. But this victory has already given them vital lessons heading to the final on July 17.
After all, they’ll meet a North African side in the finale – either defending champions Al Ahly or Esperance who were set for a later kick-off. But while the fraternity will hope to see them play Al Ahly who are coached by Pitso Mosimane, the nation will feast on their incredible journey.