Chiefs will now meet the winners of the second semi-final between the tournament’s record winners and holders, Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Tunisia’s Esperance
By BBC and Kick Off
South Africa’s Kaizer Chiefs reached the African Champions League final for the first time in their history yesterday, holding Wydad Casablanca to a 0-0 draw at home in the second leg of their semi-final.
The result was enough to earn the South Africans a place in the final of Africa’s elite club competition, having won the first leg in Morocco 1-0 last weekend.
Chiefs went into their home leg knowing they could achieve the historic feat simply by avoiding defeat.
Goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, who had helped Chiefs earn six clean sheets in this season’s Champions League before yesterday’s match, was replaced in the team by Nigerian Daniel Akpeyi.
Despite pressure from Wydad to get an equaliser, Akpeyi stood firm to help Chiefs continue their impressive recent defensive record.
They held on to become the third South African side to reach the final, after Mamelodi Sundowns (2001 and 2016) and great rivals Orlando Pirates (1995 and 2013).
Kaizer Chiefs’ achievement atones for a disappointing domestic season, having finished eighth in the 16-team league – some 31 points behind champions Sundowns.
Chiefs will now meet the winners of the second semi-final between the tournament’s record winners and holders, Egyptian giants Al Ahly and Tunisia’s Esperance.
Ahly also managed an away win in the first leg, winning 1-0 in Tunisia against an Esperance side looking to return to the final after missing out last year following African crowns in both 2018 and 2019.
This year’s final will be a one-legged fixture set for 17 July at the Stade Mohammed V in Casablanca.
Kaizer Chiefs secured their spot in the CAF Champions League final after holding Wydad Casablanca on Saturday night.
Amakhosi made two enforced changes, with shot-stopper Bruce Bvuma replaced by Daniel Akpeyi and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo starting in place of Leonardo Castro, while only five substitutes were named on the bench.
The game was open in the early exchanges, as Samir Nurkovic came close to giving the hosts the lead in the third minute with a volley unmarked inside the box that sailed wide from a corner.
Akpeyi almost made a blunder two minutes later as his pass from the back was intercepted by Ayoub El Kaabi, who unleashed a looping strike but the Nigerian goalkeeper redeemed himself with a good save.
As they game went on, Chiefs were sitting back, allowing Wydad to have a go at them and Aymane Hassouni almost broke the deadlock for the visitors in the 20th minute with a curling strike from the edge of the box that was headed for the top corner but Akpeyi pulled off an acrobatic save.
Arthur Zwane’s charges absorbed the pressure after from the break and they nearly paid the price for it on the hour-mark after Muaid Ellafi guided a free header just over the bar from close range.
However, Amakhosi also had a big chance on a counter-attack two minutes later after Nurkovic’s towering header from Reeve Frosler’s cross was saved by goalkeeper Ahmed Tagnaouti.
The game was on the edge in the last quarter of an hour, as El Kaabi had a chance to break the deadlock for Wydad and equalise on aggregate with a close-range header that sailed over the bar.
Chiefs made a change in the last 12 minutes, as Ramahlwe Mphahlele replaced Yagan Sasman left-back and in the last five minutes Frosler went down injured and he was replaced by Kearyn Baccus.
Zwane’s men defended in numbers in the dying minutes and held on to progress to the final 1-0 on aggregate and will face the winner between Al Ahly and Esperance de Tunis in the other semi-final.
Chiefs: Akpeyi, Mathoho, Cardoso, Ngezana, Sasman, Frosler, Katsande, Blom, Ngcobo, Parker, Nurkovic.
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