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Hunt is well aware of what is at stake for Chiefs as Wydad loom large in the Caf Champions League

Sazi Hadebe Sports reporter
Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt has has a glorious opportunity launch an assault at a Caf Champions League triumph in the club's first attempt in the knockout stages.
Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt has has a glorious opportunity launch an assault at a Caf Champions League triumph in the club's first attempt in the knockout stages.
Image: Kabelo Leputu/BackpagePix

Gavin Hunt will know exactly what to expect when Kaizer Chiefs face Morocco side Wydad Casablanca in the semifinals of the Caf Champions League next month.

The two sides set up their semifinal date after this past weekend's quarterfinal clashes and their meetings in the group stages should still be fresh in Hunt's mind after Chiefs lost 0-4 away from home‚ but managed a 1-0 triumph at FNB Stadium.

Chiefs went through 4-3 on aggregate despite suffering a 3-0 defeat against Simba SC in Tanzania on Saturday‚ while two-time champions Wydad beat MC Alger of Tunisia 1-0 in Morocco to go through 2-1 on aggregate.

“Yes that’s the most important thing over two legs [to win on aggregate].

"It was very difficult [on Saturday].

“But I mean we got through and that’s the most important thing. We dug in‚” Hunt said.

Simba skipper John Bocco scored a brace in the 26th and 56th minutes before Clatous Chama added another goal four minutes from time to force a nail-biting finish to a match that was completely dominated by the home side.

“There was no danger for 25 or 26 minutes‚ and then they got a corner and scored‚ which put us a little bit back. And then we returned from the first half and they got one again‚ and then got a [third]‚ which obviously made things a little bit difficult for us.

“We had to defend for the last bit of time [last four minutes and five minutes of added time].”

Hunt said he expected the match to turn out the way it did‚ with Simba in firm control and always looking dangerous when they had the ball around their penalty area.

“Obviously they are the home team‚ you know‚ they going to throw numbers. They left four players up front and if you don’t win the first ball and the second one‚ then you got problems. So it was a problem.”

The Chiefs coach admitted that his side was completely outplayed and failed to get their own game going‚ with match stats showing the visitors had only one shot on target and 37% of the ball possession.

Simba‚ on the other hand‚ had 33 shots and the 10 on target‚ resulting in their resounding 3-0 victory.

“We couldn’t get it done for various reasons‚ but we kept giving it away‚ but ja‚ the most important thing we’re through (to the semis).”

In a season in which Chiefs could not sign new players because of a Fifa ban‚ Hunt highlighted that what they’ve already achieved is historical.

“It was history to go through the group stages. But it’s not for me‚ it’s for the club [to celebrate].”

Already looking forward to a pre-season for the coming season after battling in the domestic league where Chiefs are likely to finishing in their lowest position [their lowest is ninth] in the PSL‚ Hunt said their progression‚ good as it sounds‚ will interfere with his plans for the 2021-22 season.

“It [the semifinals] interfere with the pre-season… anyway we’ll worry about that [later]. We’ve got three league games left and we got to concentrate on those league games now and try to get ourselves up the league [standings].”

Chiefs visit Black Leopards at the Thohoyandou Stadium on Wednesday and victory could help Hunt’s team move up from the 11th spot on the DStv Premiership table.

A home tie against Lamontville Golden Arrows will follow on June 2 before Amakhosi wrap their turbulent season with a trip to TS Galaxy in Mpumalanga on June 5.

Then Chiefs turn their attention to the Champions League and travel to Morocco to face Athletic on June 18 before hosting the second leg on June 25.

Reigning champions Al Ahly‚ whose coach Pitso Mosimane defeated his former club Mamelodi Sundowns on Saturday‚ meet Esperance of Tunisia in the other semi-final.

Wydad now stand a chance of playing in their fifth Champions League final.

The Moroccans won the title in 1992 and 2017‚ and finished as runners-up in 2011 and 2019.

Chiefs have never played in the Champions League final but do have the Mandela Cup (now Caf Confederation Cup)‚ which they won in 2001‚ to brag about.

After their nerve-wracking match against Simba at the Benjamin Mkapa Stadium on Saturday‚ where the home side were armed with 10 000 vociferous fans‚ Hunt admitted they were saved by their first leg 4-0 triumph.

The Champions League final is set for Mohammed V Stadium in Morocco on July 17‚ with the winners pocketing $2.5 million.