Hunt suggests Nurkovic not fit to start as Kaizer Chiefs seek record in Angola

Samir Nurkovic has returned to the Kaizer Chiefs training ground.
Samir Nurkovic has returned to the Kaizer Chiefs training ground.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Gavin Hunt wants Kaizer Chiefs to score early on Tuesday as they aim to become the first South African team to beat Primeiro da Agosta in Angola in continental competition to progress to the 2020-21 Caf Champions Legaue group stage.

Chiefs drew 0-0 at FNB Stadium in the first leg of the first round tie on December 22‚ putting in one of their more convincing performances of a poor 2020-21 season but failing to score.

Their dominant display at home will give Amakhosi hope that they can travel to Luanda (kickoff 5pm SA time‚ 4pm in Angola) and break Primiero’s unbeaten home record against South African opposition.

Hunt knows‚ though‚ that as the away leg on a good pitch at the modern Estadio 11 de Novembro – venue of the 2010 Africa Cup of Nations final – draws on and Chiefs have not scored‚ the pressure will mount on the South African club.

“We expect Primeiro de Agosto to be a different side when they play at home‚ but we need to create chances and get that important away goal as quickly as we can‚” Chiefs’ coach said.

Chiefs have confirmed that ex-Bafana Bafana No.1 Itumeleng Khune was not included in the squad because he “has not trained due to ill health”‚ the club said in a story posted on their website.

Khune’s absence‚ and the return‚ finally‚ of last season’s hugely influential top scorer Samir Nurkovic from injury were talking points ahead of the team’s departure on Sunday. Hunt suggested the Serbian striker is not fit enough for a start in Angola.

“It’s a big plus having Samir Nurkovic back from injury but he’s not very fit and hopefully we can get him up to speed as soon as we can‚” the coach said.

“We should be careful about putting all the pressure on him‚ but slowly he will get back to his best.”

Chiefs had just one training session‚ as they were “not allowed” a session after their arrival on Sunday‚ Hunt said‚ suggesting some form of gamesmanship from their hosts. Amakhosi were only allowed into Angola by special dispensation as that country has shut its borders to South Africans due to rising cases of Covid-19 in SA.

“We would have liked to train on Sunday‚ but we were not allowed. We did a bit of preparation in South Africa so the restrictions here in Luanda won’t affect us much‚” Hunt said.

“The situation is a bit disconcerting but that’s what you should expect when you play in this competition‚ so we need to be brave and play positively and hopefully score that important away goal.”

Chiefs beat Cameroon’s PWD Bamenda 1-0 in aggregate in the preliminary round. Agosto had a bye.