Samir Nurkovic (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)
Kaizer Chiefs aggressively put one foot in the CAF Champions League semi-finals with a 4-0 hammering of Tanzanian side Simba SC at the FNB Stadium on Saturday night.
It was Chiefs’ best performance of a turgid 2020/21 season and it has come at the right time.
Home wins in CAF play-off games are golden nuggets and by punishing the Tanzanians, Gavin Hunt’s side now has one foot in the semi-finals.
Goals from Erick Mathoho and Leonardo Castro were sandwiched by a Samir Nurkovic brace on a night where everything went right for the Glamour Boys.
Everything they touched turned to black and gold. Significantly, they kept a clean sheet, meaning Simba have to score five without reply to overturn the tie.
It was a first-half that Kaizer Chiefs dominated, and their two-goal lead was thoroughly deserved.
They were half-chances at best, but at this level and in home games, they have to be banged home.
That is exactly what Mathoho and Nurkovic did against a side that may have underestimated them based on league form.
That Chiefs were committed to the cause was seen through Bernard Parker. He had fighting talk in the pre-match press conference on Friday and walked the walk with a committed performance.
It was his corner that was flicked on by Nurkovic and banged into the net by Mathoho to give Chiefs an early and unexpected lead.
It took Simba 23 minutes to have a clear sight of Daniel Akpeyi’s goal, but Gerald Mkude’s shot didn’t bother the Nigerian shot-stopper that much.
In the 25th minute, Chiefs should have made it 2-0, but Daniel Cardoso narrowly failed to connect with Parker’s freekick at the far post. Four minutes later, Nurkovic also had a chance that went wide of Salum Manula’s net.
In the 34th minute, the Simba traveling contingent, one that caused Chiefs unnecessary trouble by wanting to exceed the 60-person limit allowed by CAF while also wanting fans to come to the ground, was silenced by Nurkovic’s excellent header.
The brilliance of the goal was underlined by the quality of the cross from Reeve Frosler. His ball was from far on the right-hand side, but when it was floated in, it looked harmless until it met Nurkovic’s head.
Ngezana’s forceful header four minutes later was well saved by Manula, but it was also flagged for offside.
In the 40th minute, Clatus Chama’s had a chance, but it was shifted wide by Akpeyi. It proved to be Simba’s high point of the game.
In the 58th minute, Nurkovic’s brace was completed with a spectacular finish, but the hard work from Castro and Manyama ensured the ball got to him cleanly.
Eight minutes later, Manyama’s cross was met by a flying Castro and the ball nearly punctured the net.
The accuracy of the cross and the header was enough to force a smile from the normally sullen and angry Hunt.
Chiefs’ nous for continental football was then clearly seen in how they managed the game and dished out the brinkmanship and the gamesmanship as the game wound to a close.