Chiefs settle down in Morocco ahead of Champions League final
Being underdogs against Egypt’s mighty Al Ahly might just be the biggest advantage the local lads have over their illustrious opponents
Kaizer Chiefs have arrived from a midwinter freeze in Johannesburg to a hot and humid Casablanca where their only focus is on winning the Caf Champions League final‚ winger Happy Mashiane said.
Chiefs have never reached the group stage of the competition before and may be the rank underdogs against nine-time winners and defending champions Al Ahly at Stade Mohamed V on Saturday. But that may be the biggest advantage they have, and they are primed to make the most of it.
For Amakhosi‚ reaching the Champions League final is already a victory and they have less to lose in not winning it than Ahly‚ whose supporters would be livid at a defeat to such complete outsiders.
Perhaps Chiefs’ biggest source of pressure is that they would love to avoid a sixth season without a trophy in this most unexpected of final appearances.
After a long trip via Lagos to reach Morocco‚ arriving late on Wednesday night‚ Mashiane said Chiefs had some cobwebs to stretch out in their first training session there on Thursday afternoon.
“We just arrived last night. The weather here is humid and hot. We had to adjust and things are going very well for now‚” the SA under-23 international winger said.
“The trip was fine. It’s just that it was too long and you get tired‚ and most of the time you have to just walk around stretching to get used to the travelling.
“We’ll train later [on Thursday]. We’re well prepared and mentally everything is fine.”
Another potential advantage for Chiefs is that they finished their domestic season six weeks ago and have been able to rest before focusing on the final.
Ahly‚ who have 11 games left in an Egyptian Premier League season running late due to Covid-19‚ will have had match practise but have also had little recuperation time in a gruelling campaign in which they also ended third in the Fifa Club World Cup.
Mashiane said after their rest, Chiefs were put through their paces intensely in preparation for the final by the technical staff.
“We worked very hard to reach the final and we are here now. We have promised many people we will take this thing home, so now we just have to work extra hard for that.”
Chiefs ended eighth in the Premier Soccer League.
Pitso Mosimane’s Ahly are 10 points behind Cairo rivals Zamalek in the Egyptian league but with four games in hand.