Amakhosi in buoyant mood

The day after the victory, Vivian Casaletti reports.

The sweet taste of victory is something we are going to get used to this year, I’m telling you Amakhosi! Our team really worked hard and deserved to go through to the semifinals of the Mandela Cup (Cup Winners Cup).

We played with all our hearts and fought against all odds and we did it.

We arrived at the Ismailia stadium 2 hours before the game and it was already full to capacity (approx 25 000). The Ismailia supporters are very passionate and loud; they sing through out the game and created such a warm and exciting atmosphere. On the other hand we had 50 supporters, 45 from the SA embassy in Cairo (which we warmly thank) and five of the KC family.

The Ismailia support was so amazing that the team was excited instead of being intimidated. The boys have always played better when in front of a big crowd, that’s why Amakhosi you must come to the stadium and sing for 90 minutes.

In Africa Caf competitions are taken seriuously. They are very prestigious, and it’s an honour to participate in them. That is why it attracts large crowds, because the crowd represents an element of the so called “home ground advantage”.

This unfortunately does not happen in South Africa where this competition is considered a game of no interest. Therefore big up’s to the Ismailia supporters, unfortunately for them we are used to big crowds, we felt at home & took over.

Anyway the game was tough, Ismailia team played very well & the referee was a bit too much on their side, as you will see from the game (which hopefully will be televised).

So everything was against us, the crowds, the ref, our own media, some sceptical soccer fans, but we proved them all wrong & made history! It’s the first time ever that Kaizer Chiefs qualifies for the semifinals of an African competition and we can only but win it now!

We hope we did our country and all our supporters proud. We couldn’t but be very satisfied and very happy; the team was singing and laughing the whole night.

We couldn’t quite celebrate because the whole of Ismailia closed down because of the loss, as I said it’s a national affair here. So the guys just chilled in their rooms, listened to some music & smoked the hubbly bubbly, that’s about all we could do. But the victory was enough to make us sleep sweet dreams.

The next day, the boys had the morning free and obviously slept right through to lunchtime as usual. After lunch we went to Cairo, the capital of Egypt for a tour of the city and to visit the Pyramids.

It was a very hot day and the vendors made a lot of money our of the Chiefs players we all bought those Arabic turbans to protect us from the sun, we looked more like Arabs than Africans that day.

We visited the Pyramids and the Sphinx of Giza, they were quite impressive, and we visited some archaeological runes and tombs.

All the boys were very interested especially because we were visiting the place where civilisation actually started, it was great to actually see what we have learnt from books, I think it’s everyone’s dream to visit one of the eight wonders of the world and the Amakhosi did because the glamour club can only see wonderful things, “you know what I’m saying”.

Cairo and the whole of Egypt is very interesting to visit and it’s beautiful if seen at night, during the day it’s not as impressive as it seems, but still a country worth visiting.

The visit wasn’t over yet, the officials and coach treated the team to dinner on the Nile river on a luxurious boat. Dinner on the Nile seems to be the “in” thing to do on Sunday night in Egypt because the boat was full.

The interesting thing is that Egyptians there filled their plates like there was no tomorrow & all in one go; they would help themselves to starters, 1st, 2nd course and desert at the same time.

And I thought that soccer players eat a lot, but Egyptians, mfowethu, are worse.

After the dinner and trip on the Nile, we took our bus back to Ismailia. We all relaxed & slept throughout the trip. We were all really tired when we got back to the village so we all went straight to sleep.

Day 6 – Monday, 24 September 2001

We had breakfast @ 8h30 & training was scheduled for 9h30. The training session was really fun, the guys did some stretching exercises & water aerobics. Then they played some basketball, soccer-volley & water polo. It was really fun the boys enjoyed themselves a lot. It must be nice for them to be able to train & have fun at the same time.

After training, we had lunch & then we had to go pack our bags because the Amakhosi have conquered Egypt & now it’s time to leave.

We are invited to the SA Embassy in Cairo for dinner tonight because our plane only leaves @ 3h15 am (Tuesday morning), so we are going to have dinner there & then from there we are going straight to the airport.

We are missing home so much; we miss our country, our supporters, our village, our chairman & our management. We can’t wait to be home!

Amakhosi we are on our way back home, tired, happy & victorious!

Goodbye Egypt, goodbye Ismailia, thank you for your kind & generous hospitality, we really appreciated all you have done for us during our stay. This is definitely the beginning of a legacy between SA & Egypt.

We are sure of the fact that the whole of Egypt will be supporting Kaizer Chiefs in the semi-finals against Club Afrique from Tunisia.