Kaizer Chiefs could potentially ruin AmaZulu's Caf Champions League dream
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DURBAN – AmaZulu unofficially secured their entry into next season's CAF Champions League following a 1-0 win over Moroka Swallows at the Jonsson Kings Park Stadium in Durban on Wednesday.
The win for Usuthu means that they could become the first Durban based side to secure entry into Africa's Premier club competition since the now defunct Manning Rangers managed to do so in the inaugural season of the Premiership back in 1996.
However, Usuthu's entry from Africa's Premier Cup competition could be barred should Kaizer Chiefs win the Caf Champions League. South Africa are allotted two places in the Champions League and if Chiefs win the tournament, they will gain automatic entry into the competition next season as winners while Mamelodi Sundowns will also definitely play as League Champions.
Should such a scenario occur, AmaZulu will unfortunately miss out on the Champions League. Chiefs will not be the favourites to win the Champions League and will start a tough semi-final tie against Wydad AC at the Stade Mohammed V IN Casablanca in two weeks.
By beating the Dube Birds, Usuthu also ended a run of two consecutive defeats against Baroka FC and Orlando Pirates. This would have been a relief for coach Benni McCarthy who was left happy after the game.
"I'm extremely excited and happy for the players. They deserve it after being fantastic throughout the season. In the last two games, we were off the pace and didn't get wins. If you have a 16 game unbeaten run, people will want to get you off your perch and that's what happened. The champion is judged on how we move forward. We won against one of the toughest teams in the league and could have scored more. This result gives us the three points we needed. Champions League football is coming to KZN," said McCarthy.
Meanwhile, Orlando Pirates moved up to third place after they beat Baroka FC 2-1 while Golden Arrows ended up falling to a 3-2 defeat to Kaizer Chiefs.
Josef Zinnbauer's side now just needs to avoid defeat in their final game of the season against Tshakhuma Tsha Madzivhandila on Saturday to assure themselves of a spot in the CAF Confederation Cup next season. Arrows can still take third place but they will have to beat relegation playoff threatened Stellenbosch FC while also hoping that TTM do them a favour and beat Pirates.
Pirates coach Zinnbauer was a relieved man after his side downed Baroka. It would have eased some of the pressure on him and if Pirates do manage to earn Confederation Cup football, it could help the German to win back some of the Sea Robbers fans who have lost faith in him.
"It was a tough game. We had a lot of chances and towards the end got a lucky punch. It is always important to take three points. This was a game where we needed the three points and we have another game on Saturday (against Stellies) where we will again need three points. The season is not finished and there are things we need to work on but I'm happy that we improved our performance," said Zinnbauer.