Bernard Parker chose the perfect time to end a 61-game run without scoring as his header early in the second half proved the difference
With the chips down, Kaizer Chiefs showed a lot of guts and character to grind out a 1-0 win over Wydad Casablanca in a Caf Champions League Group C fixture at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
It wasn’t just the fact that Amakhosi played an entire half with only 10 men, after Daniel Akpeyi’s sending off just before half-time, and ended the game with just nine players when Samir Nurkovic picked up a second yellow card in the 89th minute, which showed their fighting spirit.
It was that they went into the game believing they could take something out of it, the players still seemingly having faith in their coach and ready to fight for the club’s badge.
This was after all the same Wydad side which dismantled Amakhosi in a 4-0 demolition just a few months back.
After what has been a very tough season with a lot of poor results and many lows, it seems, based on last weekend at least, that Amakhosi coach Gavin Hunt still has the players on his side, which will make his job next season a lot less challenging.
Competing with the best
There is no doubt that Wydad Casablanca are one of Africa’s heavyweights and are, currently, probably one of the best three or four club teams on the continent.
The 20-time Moroccan league champions won the Champions League as recently as 2017, and have reached the quarter-finals, the final and the semi-finals since then.
Having matched their illustrious opponents, despite playing a man short, was a massive achievement for the under-pressure Glamour Boys and something which should give them a major shot of confidence going into the final two months of the season.
Keeping the African dream alive
The win gives Amakhosi a fighting chance at making it through to the Champions League quarter-finals, which would be an incredible achievement.
Importantly, it gives the players reason to stay motivated and focussed – Chiefs won’t be winning any domestic silverware this season, but at least the players, for now, still have something to fight for.
Amakhosi now need a score draw or a win against Horoya FC in Conakry next week and they’ll be through to the last eight and just two rounds away from the final.
Having something still to play for, rather than just waiting for the season to whimper to an end, is just what the players and the supporters need after a difficult period in the club’s history.