Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt confirmed that attacking midfielder, Khama Billiat, who has been out of action since January, and forward Leonardo Castro have recovered sufficiently from injury to be in contention of match action when Amakhosi take on Moroccan outfit Wydad Casablanca in their penultimate Group C game in the CAF Champions League on Saturday at 18:00. Chiefs will head into the clash at the FNB Stadium knowing that a win against the group leaders will put them in contention to progress to the quarterfinals of the competition. Hunt will be equally pleased to have a number of new options in terms of playing personnel available to him.
“Billiat is training again, so he will definitely come into the reckoning,” confirms coach Gavin Hunt ahead of Saturday’s clash against Wydad Cassablanca. “Castro is also fit again, so it will give us a little more. Their return will make a big difference to the team. Are they fit enough to play 90 minutes? I don’t think so, but at least we’ve got them back again.”
According to Hunt, the recent break that Chiefs have had as a result of international games has been a welcome one for his team as they get ready for the final weeks of this campaign. He further adds: “After what happened last year, the team needed a mental rest, not only a physical rest. It’s going to be tough in the remaining games. We need mental strength because it’s more mental than physical at the stage of the season.”
Hunt though will be focusing on the next game against Wydad and he is not concerned about the reports that Wydad are not at full strength for the game on Saturday. “It does not concern me,” he says. “if it’s true, it simply means there will be a number of players who have not played much and want to prove a point. That’s sometimes harder to play against. They are a top club and have a good squad. With the quality in the team, I don’t see a drop in standards.”
Chiefs’ centre-forward Lazalous Kambole like his coach is not buying into the reports that Amakhosi will be facing a second string Wydad outfit as he warned, “There is nothing like a weak Wydad team. We are not getting swept into mind games. It’s Wydad and there’s nothing like weak team. We have to do our job and win the match. We are expecting a tough game”.
Kambole who has ample experience campaigning in continental club competition also feels that Chiefs will give a good account for themselves on Saturday and are confident of getting the right kind of result which will keep them in line to progress in the competition.
“We have done our homework,” says a confident Kamboble. “We’ve prepared well and need to stick to our plan. We are optimistic not because of anything else but because of our own preparation. It is important for us to win as it will help us in our aim to qualify for the next round. We will give it our all and make sure we win.”
For Hunt and his charges, winning against Wydad will be a major boost for their Champions League ambitions. The Moroccans have played in South Africa in the Champions league five times previously and all of these meetings have been against Mamelodi Sundowns. They are winless in South Africa, having drawn two games and losing three. Chiefs will be hoping to stretch Wydad’s winless streak in South Africa to a sixth game.
In addition to the return of Castro and Billiat, Chiefs will also have Kearyn Baccus who has recovered from illness and Ramahlwe Mphahlele who has overcome a hamstring injury available for selection, while Erick Mathoho misses the game as a result of treatment to his tonsillitis and Dumsani Zuma is unavailable for selection.
The game will kick off at 18:00 on Saturday at FNB Stadium. It will be shown online and the links will be shared on our social media platforms.