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Leonardo Castro of Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGEPIX
Leonardo Castro of Kaizer Chiefs. Picture: SYDNEY MAHLANGU/BACKPAGEPIX

Kaizer Chiefs have defied the odds to reach the final of the Caf Champions League and striker Leonardo Castro has urged his teammates to finish off the job with an assured display of resilience and tenacity they displayed in the past few months.

Chiefs enter what is arguably the most important week in the club’s 51 years as they fine-tune preparations ahead of the showdown against Pitso Mosimane’s record winners Al Ahly in Casablanca on Saturday.

“It is a huge achievement for the team‚ Kaizer Chiefs‚ and for the fans‚ the players and the technical staff because it is the first time that we come this far in this competition‚” said the 32-year-old Colombian who won the 2016 Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns.

Having been hit by a transfer ban that saw Chiefs limp to finish eighth in the domestic 16-team Premiership on the last day of the season‚ Amakhosi had three weeks to prepare for a two-leg semifinal and triumphed over two-time champions Wydad Athletic against all odds.

Having won by a solitary goal in the first leg  against Wydad in Casablanca‚ Chiefs held their nerves for a dull draw in the return leg in Johannesburg in a goalless stalemate that qualified them for their first Champions League final.

Hours before the second at FNB Stadium‚ Chiefs were dealt a blow as striker Castro and in-form goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma were ruled out by injury. There was also a Covid-19 scare in the camp but Chiefs still managed to come out on top in the end.

“It was not really easy. We faced so many things during the campaign‚ like injuries‚ Covid-19‚ suspensions and the transfer ban.

“We faced all of those things and we came out of it and really‚ I am proud of this team. It is not that easy and all of us we contributed for where the team is right now.”

Chiefs will be bidding to become the third SA club to be crowned African champions after Orlando Pirates won the continent’s premier club competition in 1995 followed by Sundowns five years ago.


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