Streetwise Gavin Hunt can take heart from Kaizer Chiefs’ ’unbelievable result’
JOHANNESBURG - Victorious Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt breathed a huge sigh of relief when Gabonese referee Mihindou Gauthier blew the final whistle in the Champions League preliminary round first leg game against Cameroonian champions PWD Bamenda on Sunday.
Just after Chiefs had scored what turned out to the eventual winner through defender Eric Mathoho in the 84th minute, Hunt feared the worst at the Limbe Omnisport Stadium.
In the pre-match team talk Hunt had warned the team that should Chiefs score first they should anticipate problems.
The streetwise Hunt had picked up loads of experience of football in Africa as a player for Hellenic and as a coach for Wits. He has always feared the gamesmanship in continental competition.
“When we got the goal, I knew straight away there was going to be problems after that,” said Hunt. “Luckily, we scored the goal nice and late.”
Low and behold referee Gauthier awarded Bamenda a penalty in the 89th minute after he ruled that Chiefs’ Daniel Cardoso had fouled a Bamenda player in the 18-yard box.
Goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune came to the rescue and saved the spot-kick.
“We got a little bit of just reward (when they missed the penalty) because that should never have been a penalty,” said Hunt.
Hunt said earlier in the match Chiefs had several chances to score goals and put the final result beyond doubt long before the final whistle.
“It has been our problem all season. We have good strikers, but they are not scoring,” said Hunt.
“Under very trying circumstances, I thought it was an unbelievable result.
“Travelling to get to this game was unbelievable, and everything around the game was really difficult so I think it was a wonderful effort.
“We could have made the game safer. We had a lot of good opportunities and when we did not score, and I thought ‘here we go again’ but then Mathoho pulled off a great goal like a classy striker.
“We were glad to have him back from a long suspension. He will be a valuable player for us, and more so when he is fully match-fit again.”
Hunt is thrilled that the 1-0 victory came on the back of an away goal but warned the team that Bamenda will pose a formidable threat in Friday’s return leg at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.
“There is a whole match to go so you can say it is half-time,” said Hunt. “We cannot relax because they have lots of fight in their team. They are a strong physical team.”
Hunt says there are concerns around some players’ fitness ahead of Friday’s match.
“There is no time train for Friday’s game, and there are a few players who are nursing niggles. I will wait and see who will be ready for the match,” said Hunt.