Kaizer Chiefs will hire a charter plane to get the team to Madagascar and more importantly back in time for Christmas.
Chiefs take a 3-0 lead against Elgeco Plus to Antananarivo for the return leg of their African Confederation Cup second round tie on Saturday.
Air links with the island nation are not available daily and Chiefs do not want the team to be stuck in Tana with the holidays approaching.
Accordingly‚ the team will make the three-hour flight on Friday‚ train on the eve of Saturday’s game‚ play their match and head home.
“It is an expensive exercise but we have no alternative because there are not that many flights‚” Chiefs’ football manager Bobby Motaung said.
The club will then give the players time off from Monday to Thursday to celebrate Christmas but all are expected back for training on December 27.
“We will give them two more days off over New Year‚” Motaung explained.
Chiefs’s first game of 2019 is arguably their toughest of the campaign yet‚ against champions Mamelodi Sundowns at Soccer City on January 5.
Chiefs are heavily fancied to progress to the third round of the Confederation Cup with the three-goal advantage they amassed over Elgeco Plus at the Moses Mabhida Stadium last Saturday night.
Aggregate victory will see them go into the draw for the third round of the cup where the 16 winners of second round matches in the Confederation Cup are paired against 16 teams that have lost in the Champions League. There is therefore a chance that Chiefs could play Orlando Pirates in yet another derby if the Buccaneers are eliminated in Namibia on Saturday and drop down to the Confederation Cup from the Champions League. Or they could meet Sundowns if they are unable to get past Libyan opponents Al Ahly Benghazi.
● Chiefs coach Ernst Middendorp has urged his players to guard against complacency and finish the job on Saturday.
A Leonardo Castro brace and a strike from Philani Zulu secured a win for Chiefs last weekend. The German mentor does not want his players to underestimate the islanders.
“It is one game at a time‚” said Middendorp‚ who described Amakhosi as a “work in progress”. “I really don’t know what will happen in the next match‚ safe to say we are going back to the training ground to recoup and prepare for the trip to Madagascar.”
Before Castro scored his two late goals in Durban‚ which may prove to be crucial in this two legged tie‚ a small section of the Chiefs fans displayed their frustration by heckling him.
Middendorp pleaded with the fans to get behind all the players rather than unsettle them. “Castro is a goal scorer and not an entertainer.
“Thankfully, he delivered the two goals to give us a good aggregate score going away to play in Madagascar.
“The supporters need to understand the roles of each player‚” he said. “We are just worried about Mario Booysen and Khama Billiat who came out with some niggles after the game but we will assess them carefully during the week,” added the coach.