As he sat in his hotel room in the Moroccan city of Casablanca, staring out at the Atlantic Ocean, Amakhosi striker Leonardo Castro was plotting, planning and pondering how he could work his way into the record books.
Having won one CAF Champions League title in 2016 with Mamelodi Sundowns, the Chiefs striker’s mind is occupied with adding another winners’ medal to the one he won five years ago.
Castro spoke of how emotional it is to be at this stage of the tournament with Chiefs, saying “for a player to win a second Champions League title is something very special. Because it is not easy to reach the final in this tournament. It is very emotional for me, because there are many issues we are facing. We have to make sure and fight for it”.
The Colombian frontman is completely focused on Saturday’s final against Egyptian giants Al Ahly and full of self-belief that this Chiefs team can upset the form book and cause a surprise.
“You know in soccer anything can happen,” says Castro, adding “we have taken it step by step and not many were betting on us to get where we are now”.
Having battled against the odds to reach the final, with the backing of their many fans, the team is ready to challenge Al Ahly all the way in Saturday’s game at the Mohammed V Stadium in Casablanca.
“The belief and the faith in this group, the hunger has gotten us where we are now. It is a final game and one thing we know is that we have the desire to bring the star home. To make our families and fans happy and to bring smiles to the faces of people in these tough moments we are facing now in South Africa”.
Castro says the team is playing the game, with their thoughts uppermost of the difficult times people are currently facing in South Africa with violence gripping parts of the country.
“As Kaizer Chiefs players we carry on our shoulders a country like South Africa. If we put all the efforts into the game, it is going to bring smiling faces back in South Africa. We have been talking and we want to make people happy and to forget about other issues for a few hours or a few days,” says Castro.
Weighing heavily on his mind is that in 2016 he had a good tournament for Sundowns in the Champions League, but missed the final through injury, something which is driving him on this time around.
“The last final I was injured. I was part of the journey and played almost all the games. This time is different. I am available for the final and I want to play and give my contributions on the field to help the team win the star,” says a steely Castro.
He has scored two goals for Chiefs en route to the final, the first of which secured a 1-0 aggregate win over Primeiro De Agosto in the first round second leg, which gave Chiefs a 1-0 aggregate win and sent Amakhosi to the group stages for the first time.
“I was excited to contribute to that game. It was a tough game and we made it, obviously, it was not just one player, all the squad has contributed to the team effort to get us where we are,” says Castro.
Having made 9 appearances in the 2020-21 CAF Champions League for Kaizer Chiefs, he is spurred by the historical importance of what winning the Champions League will mean for him as a Colombian and South American player.
“It will be history if it happens. It is rare that South American players win the CAF Champions League. If we win the final it will be my second win. Not many Colombians players would have won the CAF Champions League and to do it with two teams will be historic,” says Castro, who will be looking to give the Al Ahly defence the run around on Saturday come 21h00 as destiny awaits.