CAPE TOWN – Kaizer Chiefs put aside their domestic troubles to take a major step towards a historic first-ever CAF Champions League semi-final with an emphatic 4-0 first-leg quarter-final crushing of Simba SC at the FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
The Chiefs administration had to face a fan protest on Friday morning at the club’s headquarters due to the Amakhosi’s precarious Dstv Premiership log position. Gavin Hunt’s team are in 10th place and could possibly miss out on the top eight for the first time this season.
This is, however, in stark contrast to their brilliant form on the continent where Chiefs qualified for the playoffs for the first time and will now head to Tanzania for the quarter-final second leg with a major advantage.
Samir Nurkovic’s struck twice either side of half-time and Leonardo Castro put the icing on the cake after Eric Mathoho provided the home side with the perfect start.
The lanky central defender rose above the Simba FC defence from an in-swinging corner from the left flank to head home in the sixth minute. The allowed Chiefs to settle into the game and they only grew stronger as the first half progressed.
Even though the Tanzanian champions dominated the possession stakes in the first half, Chiefs were content to sit back and absorb the pressure before hitting back on the counter-attack.
It was one such transition that led to Nurkovic’s first goal. Reeve Frosler, who had returned to the Chiefs line-up for this clash, delivered an inch-perfect cross into the Simba box that found Nurkovic unmarked at the far post. The big Serbian striker made no mistake and headed home for Chiefs to take a 2-0 lead into the halftime break.
Having endured a torrid first season at the helm with Chiefs’ guilty of plenty individual errors that has seen the Amakhosi drop plenty of league points, Hunt finally managed a smile in the second period with this team now in complete control of proceedings.
Still content to allow Simba FC to make all the running without really threatening the Chiefs goal, the Amakhosi hit the visitors hard where it really mattered.
Nurkovic showed all his predatory instincts that has made him one of the most feared strikers on the African continent when he pounced on to a rebound inside the Simba box to fire home a spectacular volley to put Chiefs 3-0 ahead.
But the home side were not done yet as they know the trip to Dar-es-Salaam for the second leg will be intimidating, particularly as the Tanzanians will have the benefit of a fervent home crowd inside the stadium unlike the empty concrete jungle FNB Stadium due to Covid-19 protocols was on Saturday evening.
Chiefs will, though, really have to self-implode in Tanzania not to advance to the semi-finals after substitute Leonardo Castro sent the Amakhosi faithful, watching at home on the club’s live stream, into raptures with a fourth goal on the hour mark.