Football: Chiefs hope to match 'magnificent seven'

Football: Chiefs hope to match 'magnificent seven'
Kaizer Chiefs' logo.

JOHANNESBURG - South Africans Kaizer Chiefs must erase a 3-0 deficit against Democratic Republic of Congo visitors Vita this weekend if they want to emulate the CAF Champions League 'magnificent seven'.

Only seven clubs have overcome a three-goal first-leg deficit in a qualifier since the competition succeeded the African Champions Cup 18 years ago.

Nigerians Shooting Stars staged the most spectacular comeback, crushing Guineans Kaloum 6-0 at home after losing 3-0 away.

Cameroonians Sable Batie, Sudanese Al-Hilal and Cape Verdeans SC Praia achieved the feat via penalty shootouts.

Algerians Mouloudia Alger, Nigerians Sunshine Stars and Congolese AC Leopards took the away-goal route to overall victory.

Teenager Firmin Mubele destroyed Chiefs in Kinshasa last weekend, scoring the three goals that gave Vita an unexpectedly convincing first-leg lead in the last-16 clash.

But Chiefs' English coach Stuart Baxter believes Chiefs can join the Champions League greatest comebacks club at Soccer City stadium in Soweto.

"We need an early goal to settle the nerves otherwise panic could set in," the 60-year-old former South Africa and Finland manager told reporters.

"The boys need to be cool and aggressive at the same time. I am confident because 3-0 was not a fair reflection of the first match."

Baxter said playing on natural grass would assist his players after many could not fully adapt to the artificial Stade Tata Raphael surface.

"Vita also had fantastic backing from a capacity 30,000 crowd and now it is our turn to enjoy home support. Hopefully, we will have an even larger crowd."

A blow for Chiefs is the continued absence of South Africa goalkeeper and captain Itumeleng Khune with an ankle injury and Reyaad Pieterse deputises again.

Zimbabwe striker Knowledge Musona could prove a key figure as he seeks to atone for squandering many first-leg chances.

He has notched four Champions League goals this season, including a first-round hat-trick against Mozambicans Liga Muculmana.

Defending champions and record eight-time winners Al-Ahly from Egypt are another side that must come from behind if they are to continue challenging for an unprecedented third consecutive title.

The Cairo 'Red Devils' fell 1-0 away to Libyans Al-Ahly Benghazi in a game switched to Tunisia because of security concerns.

"This match is a matter of life and death for us," stressed Egyptian coach Mohamed Youssef. "We will do whatever it takes to win and qualify for the group stage."

Benghazi also have an Egyptian coach, Tarek El-Ashry, and Nigerians Solomon Jabason and Moses Orkuma. Egyptian Ahmed Eid and Zimbabwean Edward Sadomba started the first leg.

Zamalek, five-time Champions League winners and the other Egyptian contenders, are set to maintain a 30-year jinx over Zambians Nkana.

The Cairo 'White Knights' won four previous meetings from 1984 and must fancy succeeding again having forced a 0-0 away draw.

There could be two clubs each from Egypt, Tunisia and DR Congo among the eight survivors pursuing a US$1.5 million (S$1.9 million) first prize.

CS Sfaxien have home advantage and a 1-0 lead over Guineans Horoya and fellow-Tunisians Esperance also seem set to progress having held Real Bamako 1-1 in Mali.

The other DR Congo challengers, four-time Champions League winners TP Mazembe, trail Ivorians Sewe San Pedro 2-1, but second-leg home advantage should ensure they qualify.

Hilal and Leopards square off in Omdurman deadlocked at 1-1 and Algerians Entente Setif take a 1-0 lead to Cameroonians Coton Sport.

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