Horoya loom large as Kaizer Chiefs buckle up for Champions League showdown in Guinea
Kaizer Chiefs will try to take the confidence they gained from perhaps their best performance of the Caf Champions League group stages — beating Wydad Casablanca — when they meet Horoya in Guinea on Saturday in the decisive game for the quarterfinals.
One of the two teams — both on eight points — on the field at General Lansana Conte Stadium in Conakry on Saturday (kickoff 7pm in Guinea‚ 9pm in SA) will reach the quarterfinals.
The head-to-head ruling means a goalless draw or win to Horoya‚ who drew 0-0 in Johannesburg‚ would see the Guinean side through on a superior Group C goal difference. A draw with goals or victory to Chiefs will see them qualify.
Amakhosi‚ though‚ are also counting the cost of a 1-0 victory with nine men against an admittedly understrength Wydad at FNB Stadium on Saturday‚ where the red cards to goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi and striker Samir Nurković left Chiefs with two crucial players suspended.
Defender Reeve Frosler‚ though‚ feels the benefits of a morale-boosting‚ fighting performance playing with 10 men for more than 50 minutes after Akpeyi was dismissed in the 40th can outweigh the drawbacks.
“We’re feeling confident‚ feeling good. You look at the last result in the Caf‚ it was a good result for us‚” said the right-back‚ one of Chiefs’ most consistent performers in 2020-21. “So we’ll take that confidence into the next game and hopefully we can continue to do well in the competition.”
Horoya were somewhat fortunate to come away with a draw in Johannesburg in February‚ where Nurkovic had a seemingly legitimate goal ruled offside.
“I think for us the most important thing is to stay confident in ourselves‚ and trust our ability that‚ yes‚ we’re playing away so it will be a different ball game; but we’ve got to be patient and know that we can do it‚” Frosler said.
The youth international has performed solidly for some time now — 2020-21 is his fifth senior season at Bidvest Wits and then Chiefs — so sometimes it can be easy to forget Frosler is only 23.
The fullback is part of Chiefs’ relatively young brigade emerging‚ which also includes Happy Mashiane (23)‚ Nkosingiphile Ngcobo (21) and Njabulo Blom (21) — many of whom will be eligible for coach David Notoane’s SA Under-23 team for the delayed Tokyo Olympics in July and August.
The experience in the Champions League has visibly improved those players.
“It gives us a lot of experience at continental and international level. And hopefully we will take this experience and learn from it so that when we do get a chance playing for our national teams‚” Frosler said.
In a battling‚ rebuilding season for Gavin Hunt in the coach’s transfer ban-affected first season at Chiefs‚ even if the Soweto giants fall at the last hurdle for the quarters against experienced and tough Horoya‚ such experience gained can be invaluable for 2021-22.
Wydad‚ who lead Group C with 10 points‚ meet Angola’s Petro de Luanda (one point) in Morocco on Saturday.