Manyama as Chiefs eye huge Caf clash: 'Nothing would be better than to put the star on the badge'
Kaizer Chiefs might be playing against an Egyptian side in the Caf Champions League final in Morocco on Saturday but midfielder Lebogang Manyama says they might as well be preparing to face a domestic side as Al Ahly have a strong South African flavour.
The Al Ahly technical team is proudly South African as besides being led by irrepressible head coach Pitso Mosimane‚ they also have assistant mentor Cavin Johnson‚ fitness trainer Kabelo Rangoaga and analyst Musi Matlaba in their ranks.
Manyama said while these men call Cairo home these days‚ they will know all about Chiefs after numerous interactions with Amakhosi personnel both on and off the pitch over the years.
"We all know very well also that they have a South African technical team whom we have played for‚ some of the coaches we have worked with‚ whether in the national team or [at club level]‚" he said.
"Most of us are very familiar with the coaching staff there‚ very good people‚ top‚ top coaches that have done very well in their coaching careers‚ and obviously in their playing careers.
"And jah‚ they know [us]‚ we are an open book to them because we have faced each other so many times‚ with coach Pitso more especially.
"So it is going to be a very interesting one‚ but jah‚ we are looking forward to it. Obviously Al Ahly are a very big team‚ they have always been big even without coach Pitso. So that means now they are probably much‚ much better and much stronger you know."
Few gave Chiefs a chance to go very far at the start of the Champions League as Amakhosi had never even reached the group stages of the continent's premier club competition.
Even after they managed to get to the group stages for the first time in their history‚ many cynics expected AmaKhosi to be the whipping boys of Group C when they were drawn against Morocco powerhouses Wydad Casablanca‚ Horoya of Guinea and Angola's Petro de Luanda.
But they defied the odds to emerge as runners-up and proceeded to beat Tanzania's Simba in the quarter-finals and the selfsame Wydad in the semi-finals to set up their unexpected date against Al Ahly in the final.
The doubters are back again and many expect Chiefs to be on the receiving end of a humiliating hiding against a pedigreed Al Ahly side that has the added advantage of a South African technical team.
But Manyama said they remain quietly confident and will use the same spirit that has carried them throughout the tournament as motivation in Morocco.
"Look‚ a final is a final and it is one game. It is about who wants it more on the day and I think we are quite ready for [Saturday]. We are just going to enjoy every moment of it because we have come a long way to be where we are and we should be very proud‚" he said.
"We want to go as far as taking it and putting a star on our jersey‚ which would mean a whole lot because I think every Kaizer Chiefs fan deserves this after the rough times we have had without having a trophy [six-year drought].
"And then all of a sudden we are in the biggest one [the Caf Champions League] and I think we have to do this for the badge.
"The chairman [Kaizer Motaung] deserves this for all the work he has done for the club‚ to put the club where it is‚ to also push through during those tough times.
"I think he also deserves something and nothing would be better than to put the star on the badge‚ on the T-shirt that he created."