Kaizer Chiefs players celebrate scoring during the 2021 CAF Champions League semi-final 1st Leg against Wydad. Photo: BackpagePix
Kaizer Chiefs players celebrate scoring during the 2021 CAF Champions League semi-final 1st Leg against Wydad. Photo: BackpagePix

What the numbers say about Kaizer Chiefs’ CAF Champions League chances

By Matshelane Mamabolo Time of article published Jun 26, 2021

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JOHANNESBURG - It is generally accepted that statistics are nothing more than numbers on a piece of paper with very little influence on the outcome of sporting events.

That though has never stopped the forecasters from consulting the stats in anticipation of clashes.

And, as Kaizer Chiefs look to reach their maiden CAF Champions League final, Amakhosi faithful would be pleased to know that statistics point in their team’s favour.

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Surprise 1-0 winners over Wydad Casablanca in the first leg clash played in Casablanca, Morocco, last week, Chiefs are in the driving seat going into tonight’s second leg at the FNB Stadium.

And they need only do what they’ve been doing since the start of this year’s campaign to progress to the finale – keep a clean sheet.

The Chiefs rearguard has not been breached in six home matches thanks to the fantastic work by goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, who has moved from being a third choice at his club to a Champions League star.

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In those matches, Chiefs have won three times, drawn the same number of times and scored seven goals without letting in any.

Compare that to Wydad’s away record and there’s every reason to foresee Amakhosi contesting for the title of the continent’s premier club competition on July 17.

The Moroccans have a single win from five matches on the road in this campaign and have lost and drawn on two occasions. They’ve only scored twice while letting in three.

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One of those defeats was against Amakhosi in the group stage, although it has to be remembered that Wydad had sent their B team for that clash – careful as they wanted to avoid having their stars quarantined due to Covid-19 protocols and thus miss some key domestic matches.

And then there’s another factor that would have Chiefs approaching the tie with extra confidence – Wydad’s record in South Africa. The two-time African champions have never won a match on South African soil. They’ve played here four times, drawing twice and losing the same number of times against Mamelodi Sundowns. If these contrasts seem to point to a Chiefs success tonight, there are others that put into perspective the fact that Amakhosi’s victory in the first leg was a shock result of epic proportions.

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While Amakhosi are in their maiden semi-final of the Champions League in five attempts, Wydad are making a fifth appearance at the penultimate stage in six years. And in those previous four appearances, the’ve progressed to the final twice and won on a single occasion.

It is that vast experience, no doubt, that the north Africans will be relying on to turn the tables over a Chiefs outfit that has had a forgettable season on the domestic front where they attained the coveted top eight finish on the last day of the campaign.

And there’s a further contrast – on the technical side. While Chiefs co-coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard have had a mere three matches in charge following the departure of Gavin Hunt, their opposite number Faouzi Benzarti is an old master with 42 years’coaching experience. He is actually Africa’s most decorated coach in continental competition with five titles – the Champions League, two Confederation Cup titles and two Super Cups.

He’s bound to want to make his experience count against the upstarts.

Such is the seriousness with which they are treating this second leg tie that Wydad fielded a second string team for their midweek league clash on Tuesday against Renaissance Berkane so that stars such as leading scorer Ayoub el Kaabi are well rested.

The pressure on Wydad to reach the final is intensified by the fact that the match will be played in their home stadium in Casablanca.

Surely, that would be motivation enough for them to overturn the first leg defeat, especially given the difference in prize money for reaching the final and being knocked out at this penultimate stage. The Champions League winners bank a cool $2.5 million while runners-up get half of that and semi-finalists take home $875 000.

It all makes for an intriguing clash. Meanwhile in a later kick-off, Pitso Mosimane’s Al Ahly host Tunisian side Esperance enjoying a 1-0 lead from the first leg.

@Tshiliboy

IOL Sport

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