The Glamour Boys showed character as they secured a crucial win despite having lost two players, who were given red cards
Kaizer Chiefs kept their hopes of reaching the Caf Champions League quarter-finals alive by defeating Wydad Casablanca 1-0 at FNB Stadium on Saturday evening.
Bernard Parker was the hero for nine-man Amakhosi as his second-half goal earned the Soweto giants an important victory over the 20-time Moroccan champions.
Amakhosi were hoping to record their second win in the group stage having secured a morale-boosting 1-0 win over their biggest rivals, Orlando Pirates on March 21.
Coach Gavin Hunt made two changes to the team which faced the Buccaneers with Yagan Sasman and Lebogang Manyama returning to the starting line-up.
Meanwhile, the Emperor had already qualified for the Champions League quarter-finals and they also claimed a 2-0 victory over their archrivals Raja Casablanca on March 21.
Hunt’s counter-part, Faouzi Benzarti rested his key attackers Ayoub El Kaabi and Mohammed Ounajem, while Michel Babatunde and Zouheir El Moutaraji were handed a chance to impress.
Amakhosi controlled the match from the first whistle – creating goalscoring opportunities that they could not convert with Lebohang Manyama and Parker being the main culprits.
Manyama’s effort narrowly missed the target, before Parker’s acrobatic attempt went inches wide of Wydad second-choice goalkeeper Issa Sioudi’s left upright.
Daniel Cardoso then had a chance to capitalise on some poor defending by the Emperor, but the experienced centre-back miskicked the ball with only Sioudi to beat.
Wydad took control of the game after the half-hour mark and Daniel Akpeyi handled the ball outside the box after one of the Emperor’s attacks on the stroke of half-time.
The Nigerian goalkeeper was then given a straight red card with Chiefs being reduced to 10 players and Hunt decided to replace Manyama with Itumeleng Khune.
The hosts started the second half brightly and they managed to break the deadlock when Parker scored with a header to hand Chiefs a 1-0 lead just three minutes after the restart.
Benzarti, who masterminded Wydad’s 4-0 win over Chiefs in the reverse fixture in February 2021, reacted by introducing 21-year-old forward Mounsef Chrachem as the Emperor looked to level matters.
Khune produced a fine save to deny El Moutaraji and Hunt made a tactical change as he pulled out attacker Happy Mashiane and he introduced defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele.
The momentum was with the visitors in the closing stages with Hamza Ait Allah squandering two good chances when he failed to direct his free headers towards the goal-posts.
The hosts were then reduced to nine players when Samir Nurkovic received his second yellow card of the game in the last minute, but Chiefs held on to secure a 1-0 victory over Wydad.