Wydad stays optimistic ahead of Chiefs’ 2nd leg


WYDAD Casablanca’s head coach Faouzi Benzarti still feels optimistic for his team after their shock first-leg CAF Champions League loss to Kaizer Chiefs FC.

The 2017 winners fell to the South African football team with a 34th-minute goal in Stade Mohamed V, ending their impressive 13-game unbeaten run in all competitions. 

Speaking in a post-match conference, Benzarti expressed his desire for him and his team to shift the game in the return leg in Johannesburg, and refused to blame the loss on his players. 

“We lost with one goal, we still have another match to play in South Africa, the VAR wasn’t used in favour of Wydad like during the previous matches,” Benzarti said.

“We’ll try to overturn this result in South Africa, I can’t fault the players, they gave one hundred percent. They were present mentally and physically but this is football.

“We accept the result and we look forward to doing better in the next match.”

Chiefs beat Wydad with a single goal shot by striker Samir Nurkovic that was set up by teammate Njabulo Blom down the right-wing in a counter attack. 

In their first match using video assistant referee (VAR), with Senegalese referee Maguette Ndiaye at the helm, Nurkovic’s goal was originally ruled offside before Ndiaye reversed the decision and granted the goal.

Samir Nurkovic scores against Wydad. Picture: Kaizer Chiefs

Despite being the team better suited to take the victory of the first leg over the competition’s underdogs, Wydad fell flat in the end with a 80% possession advantage and an overwhelmingly disappointing count of 26-1 shots.

With a 1-0 lead over Wydad Casablanca, Kaizer Chiefs look to confirm their place in the finals when they play their second leg at FNB Stadium. 

For Chiefs’ caretaker coach Arthur Zwane, the team’s job is far from done. Zwane believes that the team will need to show up at their home match, and ensure that they reach the final through a victory.

“We came here to do the business and we did exactly that. We are happy with the result, but we know it’s not yet over. We have the second leg back home in Johannesburg and we will try and finish it off there,” Zwane said, according to the club’s website.

“We’ve done what we came here for, we kept a clean sheet and we wanted a goal or two. The one is okay. They will open up a bit when they come to play us and we will try and punish them.

“We have another 90 minutes, it will be difficult. We were very disciplined and we hope to keep a clean sheet at home as well,” he said.

In the other semi-final face off, defending champions Al Ahly of Egypt moved closer to another CAF final after beating Tunisian side Esperance in a feisty first leg of their semifinal in Rades, winning 1-0.

Ahly’s Mohamed Sherif scored the only goal of the match in the second half, giving the Lions the chance to extend their record number of finals appearances in the competition to 14.

The match in Tunisia was delayed by an hour after police fired teargas at Esperance’s home supporters in the stand, whose actions forced the players off the field during warm-up.


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