Lebogang Manyama of Kaizer Chiefs in action. Picture: STEVE HAAG/BACKPAGEPIX
Lebogang Manyama of Kaizer Chiefs in action. Picture: STEVE HAAG/BACKPAGEPIX

Kaizer Chiefs might be playing against an Egyptian side in the Caf Champions League final in Morocco on Saturday but midfielder Lebogang Manyama says they could as well be preparing to face a domestic side as Al Ahly have a strong SA flavour.       

The Al Ahly technical team is proudly South African. Besides being led by head coach Pitso Mosimane‚ they also have assistant mentor Cavin Johnson‚ fitness trainer Kabelo Rangoaga and analyst Musi Matlaba in their ranks.

Manyama said while these men call Cairo home these days‚ they will know all about Chiefs after numerous interactions with Amakhosi personnel both on and off the pitch over the years.

“Most of us are familiar with the coaching staff there‚ very good people‚ top‚ top coaches that have done very well in their coaching careers‚ and obviously in their playing careers.

“They know [us]‚ we are an open book to them because we have faced each other so many times‚ with coach Pitso more especially,” said Manyama.

“So it is going to be a very interesting one‚ but we are looking forward to it. Obviously Al Ahly are a very big team‚ they have always been big even without coach Pitso. So that means now they are probably much better and stronger.”

Few gave Chiefs a chance to go far at the start of the Champions League campaign as Amakhosi had never reached the group stages of the continent’s premier club competition.

Even after they managed to get to the group stages for the first time in their history‚ many cynics expected Amakhosi to be the whipping boys of Group C when they were drawn against Morocco powerhouse Wydad Casablanca‚ Horoya of Guinea and Angola’s Petro de Luanda.

But they defied the odds to emerge as runners-up and proceeded to beat Tanzania’s Simba in the quarterfinals and Wydad in the semifinals to set up their unexpected date against Al Ahly in the final.

The doubters are back again and many expect Chiefs to be on the receiving end of a humiliating hiding against a pedigreed Al Ahly side.

But Manyama said they remain quietly confident and will use the same spirit that has carried them throughout the tournament as motivation in Morocco.

“Look‚ a final is a final and it is one game. It is about who wants it more on the day and I think we are quite ready. We are just going to enjoy every moment of it because we have come a long way and we should be very proud‚” he said.

“We want to go as far as taking it and putting a star on our jersey‚ which would mean a whole lot because every Kaizer Chiefs fan deserves this after the rough times we have had without having a trophy. 

“And then all of a sudden we are in the biggest one [the Caf Champions League] and we have to do this for the badge. The chairman [Kaizer Motaung] deserves this for all the work he has done for the club‚ to put the club where it is‚ to also push through during those tough times.

“He also deserves something, and nothing would be better than to put the star on the badge‚ on the T-shirt that he created,” said Manyama.


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