Kaizer Chiefs boosted their hopes of winning the 2020/21 Caf Champions League title by securing a 1-0 win over Wydad Casablanca in the semi-final first-leg match on Saturday night.
Samir Nurkovic was the hero for Amakhosi as his first-half goal inspired the South African football powerhouse to a narrow win over the Moroccan giants in a game which was played at Stade Mohamed V in Casablanca.
The Red Castle were targeting nothing but a win at home having extended their unbeaten run to 12 competitive matches when they drew 0-0 with Renaissance Zemamra in the Moroccan Botola League match on Wednesday.
Mohamed Ounajem and Ayoub El Kaabi started for coach Faouzi Bezarti’s side with the two experienced attackers having scored in Wydad’s emphatic 4-0 victory over Chiefs at home in a Group C game in February this year.
While Amakhosi were hoping to record their first-ever away win in North Africa in the Champions League and they had recorded their second successive win when they defeated TS Galaxy 1-0 in their final 2020/21 PSL game two weeks ago.
Njabulo Blom, Yagan Sasman and Siyabonga Ngezana were recalled to the starting line-up as coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard made three changes to the team which faced Galaxy.
Chiefs were under siege from the first whistle as they were bombarded with waves of attacks from Wydad, who were searching for an early goal in order to unsettle the visitors’ defence.
Ounajem’s powerful shot was well-saved by goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma, who then produced a world-class save to keep out Muaid Ellafi’s free header as pressure mounted on the Amakhosi’s backline.
However, the Red Castle were left to rue their missed chances as Chiefs took a 1-0 lead against the run of play when Blom played a low cross for Samir Nurkovic, who scored with a first time shot in the 34th minute.
The hosts tried to respond with a goal, but Bvuma, who was in top form on the night, made two smart saves to deny Wydad’s troublesome duo of Ounajem and Ellafi and the score was 1-0 to Chiefs at the interval.
Wydad continued to dominate the game after the restart, but they were frustrated by Bvuma’s great goalkeeping and they were also wasteful in front of goal.
The Bafana Bafana international blocked shots from Walid El Karti and El Kaabi after the Chiefs defence was exposed, before an effort from Yahya Jabrane went inches wide of Bvuma’s left upright.
Zwane and Sheppard, who were in charge of the team in the absence of head coach Stuart Baxter, decided to pull out Blom and introduce Kearyn Baccus as they refreshed the midfield with 17 minutes left.
Wydad were restricted to long-range shots in the closing stages of the game as Bvuma made a comfortable save from Aymane Hassouni’s attempt from distance and ultimately, Chiefs ran out 1-0 winners over Wydad.
Chiefs are now set to play host to Wydad in the second-leg encounter at FNB Stadium next week Saturday. source:@goal
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