A game of African football royalty – Jessica

COLUMN FROM KAIZER CHIEFS MARKETING DIRECTOR JESSICA MOTAUNG

From its inception in 1970, Kaizer Chiefs has always sought to be a club that is a South African, continental and global brand, with lofty ambitions on the world football stage.

We are therefore honoured and extremely excited to be playing in Africa’s showpiece club football finale, as equals against an defending champions, Egypt’s Al Ahly.

We have the utmost respect for Al Ahly, a club that has built a massive global brand and following. They are nine-time African champions and obviously have a lot of experience. To compete against them for the African crown – is a massive achievement for us as Kaizer Chiefs.

The two clubs have many things in common and can take a leaf from each other’s books in terms of marketing efforts, the phenomenal growth of our clubs’ social media channels, TV platforms, club facilities, home stadiums and global fan base.

We both also take great pride and respect in preserving and documenting our heritage, while also being futuristic in our vision for what the long-term future holds for our respective clubs.

But while we greatly respect Al Ahly, on the pitch we do not fear them, and will be ‘going for gold’ in Casablanca and looking to create our own piece of African and world football history.

While there is great mutual admiration between our two clubs, we are not in Casablanca to merely make up the numbers, we are going here to compete – and to win.

This will be a final between ‘Pharoahs’ and ‘Kings’.

Kaizer Chiefs has established itself over the last five decades as South Africa’s biggest and most successful club, as our name suggests we are the ‘kings’ of South African football.

We won the 2001 African Cup Winners Cup and were named Africa’s Club of the Year, but we haven’t always done as well as we would have liked in African continental competition over the years.

Recent years have also been very difficult for us on the domestic front, but we are very proud of the club’s run to the final of the CAF Champions League, which has been a massive boost for our brand on the continent and ensured we again take our seat at Africa’s top table of elite African clubs and brands.

Media and public interest in Kaizer Chiefs’ march to the CAF Champions League final has been unprecedented. Through our continental campaign this season, we have strengthened our continental support base and grew a new legion of fans in countries such as Tanzania, Morocco, Cameroon, Angola and Egypt.

We of course take great pride in our compatriot Pitso Mosimane’s success at the helm of Al Ahly, which is a source of pride for all South African football fans.

But as Pitso himself has said this is not a charity match, it’s a continental title, and the trophy has to be earned – which is exactly what our club is going to Casablanca to try and achieve.

It’s no secret that a star on our jersey is the one thing that Kaizer Chiefs needs.

We are so close now, and our players are in Morocco to represent our badge, our supporters and our Chairperson with pride. We know this will be a monumental challenge, but we will approach the final with confidence.

This campaign, it feels as if the omens and stars are aligning. The last time we won an African title in 2001, the trophy was named after our country’s former President Nelson Mandela.

And this year the CAF Champions League final takes place on 17 July, on the eve of Madiba’s birthday and the globally recognized Mandela Day.

But we know sentiment will count for little, we have to become African champions on the pitch. And we will do our utmost to return from Casablanca with a special piece of shiny extra hand luggage that will bring joy to millions of Amakhosi back home and around the world.