Amakhosi heading to Champions League Semifinals

Despite a 3-0 loss to Simba in the second leg of their CAF quarterfinal clash on Saturday afternoon, Kaizer Chiefs advanced to the semifinals of the competition having won the tie 4-3 on aggregate after their comprehensive 4-0 triumph in the first leg in Johannesburg a week ago. Despite having faced a hostile crowd in the Tanzanian capital, Amakhosi managed to hold out and progress. Raphael Bocco managed a brace for Simba scoring in the 26th and 56th minutes. Even though Chota Chama scored a third in the 86th minute to get Chiefs fans nerves on edge, it was not enough to deny Amakhosi passage to the last four.

Simba in an effort to get into the game threw everything forward early on. They had a couple of shots from distance at the Chiefs goal, but they were off target and did not cause much trouble for Bruce Bvuma. Chiefs’ first real chance came in the 13th minute after a short corner between Bernard Parker and Lebogang Manyama on the left saw Manyama curl the ball towards goal. Leonardo Castro was able to get to the ball but his headed effort at goal grazed his head and went out for a goal kick.

Simba were employing highly physical tactics with Samir Nurković and Manyama bearing the brunt of the hosts physical approach. Nurković picked up a yellow card for remonstrating with the referee in the 15th minute for not protecting Amakhosi players from Simba’s overzealous tackling. Manyama continued to feel the pain from hosts as he was felled twice between the 19th and 20th minute with no repercussion for the hosts.

Simba managed to take the lead in the 24th minute. A Chiefs attack broke down and Kope Mugalu was able to switch play from the left, sending the ball over to the right, picking out Chama with a delicate lob sent Bocco on goal who managed to meet the ball on the half volley as it bounced, and he knocked it under the legs of Bvuma making it 1-0 to the hosts.

In the immediate after the goal, Simba lay siege to the Chiefs goal as they looked to continue to claw away at Amakhosi’s advantage. Bvuma was quick of his line in the 26th to thwart Bocco who had managed to spring the Chiefs offside trap and unleashed a ferocious shot at goal. A half crouched Bvuma was able to block and avert the danger.

A minute later Mugalu sent a leaping header just over the Chiefs cross bar. In the 29th minute Bvuma dived to his right to push out a hand and send a shot from Chama out for a corner.

Chiefs managed to slow the game down and were able to create a chance in the 36th minute. A  long free-kick went over the top of the Simba defence and found Siyabonga Ngezana inside the right edge of Simba’s 18 yard area, as the ball came to him, he tried squeezing the ball past Salum Manula who managed to get down and make a save.

Deep into referee’s added time at the end of the first half, Mugalu when attacking a cross from the right lunged himself at the ball flying with his studs into the midriff of Bvuma, sending the Chiefs keeper crashing to the ground.

A frantic first half ended with Simba substitute and former Orlando Pirates forward Bernard Morison collecting a caution for a diving under a challenge from Reeve Frosler.

The hosts led 1-0 at the break.

Three minutes after the restart, Chiefs had the perfect opportunity to have drawn level. Frosler’s telling ball from the right was able to find Castro who leaped highest to meet the ball with his head. His attempt was off target and went out for a goal kick.

In the early excitement of the second half Bvuma picked up a yellow card, after he threw the ball out as he was suffering from a cramp, but the referee deemed it to be a time-wasting exercise.

Simba grabbed a second goal in the 56th minute from Bocco after knocking home the ball from close range when meeting a cross from the left by Luís Miquissone. although Bocco was in an offside position, it is thought the ball came off a Chiefs player in the build up to the goal.

In the 67 minute, Njabulo Blom was played in on goal. With the goalkeeper to beat, he tried lobbing the ball over Manual, but fell awkwardly.

With four minutes to go Simba set up a grandstand finish with Chama scoring the hosts third goal. He managed to glide into the Chiefs 18-yard area, before guiding the ball beyond Bvuma to make it 3-0. Despite the four minutes and another five minutes of additional time, Chiefs held out to go through to the semifinals of the CAF Champions League for the first time in the club’s history.

Chiefs are now South Africa’s sole representatives in the competition with Mamelodi Sundowns unfortunately bowing out at the hands of Al Ahly. Amakhosi making their fans around the globe happy with this achievement as well as their fans in Tanzania who managed to come to the ground and spur Chiefs on to a historical feat.

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