Kaizer Chiefs reached the Caf Champions League final for the first time after drawing 0-0 with Wydad Casablanca in the semi-final second-leg match on Saturday evening.
Amakhosi were looking to avoid a defeat in order to qualify for the final following their hard-fought 1-0 victory over the Moroccan giants courtesy of Samir Nurkovic’s goal in the first-leg encounter last weekend.
Daniel Akpeyi and Nkosingiphile Ngcobo were recalled to the starting line-up as interim coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard made two changes to the team which started in Casablanca.
Meanwhile, Wydad were under pressure to overturn the deficit and progress to the final having claimed a morale-boosting 2-0 win over RS Berkane in the Moroccan Botola League game on Tuesday.
Veteran coach Faouzi Benzarti named deadly attackers Mohamed Ounajem, Ayoub El Kaabi and Walid El Karti in the starting line-up after they were rested against Berkane.
Wydad dominated the match from the start with Akpeyi being the busier of the two keepers, making early saves to deny El Kaabi and Ounajem with Chiefs sitting back and absorbing pressure, then trying to hit the visitors on the counter.
Akpeyi, who had started ahead of Amakhosi’s first-leg hero Bruce Bvuma between the sticks, made a mistake as he gave away possession, but the Nigeria international recovered well and made a good save from Walid El Karti’s low shot.
Chiefs were struggling to deal with crosses that were played into their box and they nearly conceded when unmarked El Kaabi missed the ball completely from close range before the former Hebei FC striker was denied by Akpeyi from inside the area.
Aymane Hassouni was then afforded space and time on the edge of the box and he unleashed a curling shot that was heading for the top left corner, but Akpeyi produced a magnificent diving save to deny the 26-year-old attacker and the score was 0-0 at half-time.
The Red Castle continued to apply some pressure on the Amakhosi defence with 1994 Caf Champions League title-winning coach Benzarti having introduced Muaid Ellafi, who became an instant threat to the hosts with his sharp movement.
The Wydad winger should have handed Wydad the lead after he connected with Ayoub El Amloud’s cross at the far post, but he directed his header just over the crossbar from close range with Akpeyi rooted to the ground.
Amakhosi did threaten against the run of play when Reeve Frosler delivered a wonderful cross for Nurkovic, whose header was fantastically finger-tipped over the crossbar by a well-positioned keeper Ahmed Reda Tagnaouti.
Ramahlwe Mphahlele replaced Yagan Sasman in the closing stages as Zwane and Sheppard refreshed the defence and Chiefs managed to contain Wydad, and ultimately, the match ended in a 0-0 draw on the night.
The draw saw Chiefs win the tie 1-0 on aggregate and they progress to the final where they will take on either defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt or Tunisian giants Esperance de Tunis on July 17. SOURCE: @GOAL
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