The great unknown awaits Kaizer Chiefs, Wydad in Burkina Faso
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JOHANNESBURG - Kaizer Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt is expecting a tough clash when they visit Moroccans Wydad Casablanca in the uncharted territory of Burkina Faso for a Champions League group stage match on Sunday.
A fortnight ago, Chiefs’ group stage campaign endured a turbulent start after their opening match was postponed as Wydad denied Chiefs entry to their country, citing strict restrictions due to Covid-19.
The Confederation of African Football rescheduled the match to be played in Cairo, Egypt, last Friday, but Chiefs rejected the proposal due to a “few impediments”, including domestic commitments and the late application for visas to Egypt.
CAF then rescheduled the match to be played on Sunday, February 28, but the Egyptian Football Association pulled out as hosts.
The continental mother body had to change the neutral venue to Burkina Faso for this Sunday.
Chiefs and Wydad, though, played their first matches in the group stage on Tuesday night. Amakhosi hosted Horoya Athletic Club to a goalless draw as they remained third in Group C, while Wydad’s 1-0 away win against Petro de Luanda placed them second.
In his illustrious coaching career that has spanned almost three decades, Hunt has travelled all over the continent, except to a few countries like Burkina Faso, which is in West Africa.
But he still believes that Wydad won’t have much of a home advantage either.
“We knew this game was going to take place either way, so it was just a matter of where,” Hunt said.
“One country that I’ve never been to is Burkina Faso. But I’ve been everywhere else, Morocco, Tunisia. I’ve played everywhere.
“It’s going to be a little bit new. But we have to look at the pitch, see the size and where it is; that’s the most important thing.
“But it puts them on a little bit (of a) back foot as well. They are the stronger team in the group with the experience.”
Chiefs have been good travellers in the competition, given that they qualified for the group stage after away wins against PWD Bamenda and Primeiro de Agosto in the preliminary round of the qualifiers. They drew both return matches at home.
But for Chiefs to increase their chances of making it far in the competition they know the importance of winning their home matches.
And that’s why Hunt was disappointed that they earned only a point on Tuesday to remain winless at home in three successive matches.
“I am disappointed with the result. I think we did enough to win the game but that didn’t happen.
But that’s football; if you understand football, it’s one of those things.
“We kept playing and trying to get in there. Good result to take but obviously disappointed at home,” the Amakhosi said.
Chiefs’ realistic chances of winning silverware this season lie in the Champions League as their domestic campaign has been disappointing as they are ninth on the Premiership standings with 19 points, 17 behind leaders and defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns.
They were bundled out of the MTN8 and Nedbank Cup competitions by Orlando Pirates and Richards Bay respectively.
But before flying out to Burkina Faso this afternoon, Hunt said he was pleased with the overall mentality and fighting spirit he’s been getting from his troops recently.