Nurković warns Chiefs: It is not over yet against Wydad Casablanca
Even taking a 1-0 lead into the semifinal second leg at home does not assure Amakhosi of a place in the Caf Champions League final
First leg scorer Samir Nurković has cautioned Kaizer Chiefs that their semifinal tie is far from over and they still have a job to do protecting their 1-0 lead against Wydad Casablanca in the second leg at FNB Stadium on Saturday.
Chiefs‚ in character with most of their startling run through a competition they had never previously reached the group stage of‚ were far from perfect in their away leg at Stade V Mohamed in Casablanca.
What was lacking in finesse — never the most important ingredient in such a tie — was made up for by the far more crucial fight and discipline in sticking to a defensive gameplan against their crack opponents.
The approach the team takes to the second leg, which kicks off at 6pm, will be crucial.
Chiefs will not be able to play a free-flowing game — an open match would play into the hands of dangerous Wydad‚ given the 2017 champions need goals.
Amakhosi also need to find the balance between overly sitting back — which can invite Wydad’s fast‚ technical forwards to pick them apart — and applying pressure on the Moroccan outfit in the other direction.
“It was a great team effort and I was really happy to have contributed to the victory‚ but we can’t be celebrating because it’s only halftime‚” Nurković‚ whose 34th-minute goal separated the teams‚ said.
“When we play them at home we have to be sure to win that game as well. Everyone was happy with the result. They had to be. It’s a really good result away from home and it’s a semifinal first leg of the Champions League.
“It was really a good effort from everyone in the team. And we have to continue with the same fighting spirit in the second leg,” the striker added
Chiefs were the first SA club to play in a match with video assistant referee (VAR)‚ and had a positive experience. Nurković’s goal was initially ruled offside by the assistant referee‚ but replays showed the Serb was about a metre onside‚ and his goal was crucially allowed to stand.
“It is important because it’s going to be less cheating. And if it’s not important then this league‚ one of the biggest in the world‚ wouldn’t be using it‚” Nurković said of the presence of VAR in the Champions League semifinals.
Chiefs had a three-week rest from their two wins earned at the end of the Premiership campaign under caretaker-coach Arthur Zwane‚ after Gavin Hunt’s dismissal‚ which saw them scramble a morale-boosting top eight place.
Wydad‚ in contrast have had no such fortune‚ playing midweek matches ahead of both legs of the semifinal tie‚ as Morocco’s Botola league ends late.
They had tough encounters in a 0-0 draw against Renaissance Zemamra last Wednesday‚ then beat RSB Berkane 2-0 a week later.
Amakhosi’s freshness seemed to work in their favour in Casablanca‚ putting in a Trojan-like shift to contain Wydad‚ despite Chiefs’ much-circulated statistic of 22% possession to 78. They will aim for another supreme effort at FNB.
Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments?
Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.
Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.