Amakhosi anxiously await to know their group stage opponents in Africa’s premier club competition
Former Kaizer Chiefs forward Pollen Ndlanya says 2021 “will be a special year” for the Soweto giants whom he believes stand a “real chance to win the Caf Champions League” despite facing reigning African champions Al Ahly and Mamelodi Sundowns as potential group stage opponents.
The Champions League draw will be held in Cairo on Friday.
In their first-ever group stage participation, bottom-seeded Chiefs could be drawn in the same pool as their Gauteng rivals Mamelodi Sundowns who are in Pot 2.
The Soweto giants could also find themselves in the same group with top-seeded and defending champions Al Ahly who are coached by former Downs tactician Pitso Mosimane.
With Chiefs also facing the possibility of playing the likes of Esperance, TP Mazembe, Wydad Casablanca and Zamalek, Ndlanya regards his former team as “one of the biggest teams on the continent” and has confidence that Gavin Hunt’s men could be crowned African champions.
“I feel positive that the club has a real chance to win the African Champions League. This will be my dream and deepest wish for the fans and the best possible way we can celebrate the club’s 51st birthday in style,” Ndlanya told Chiefs’ media.
“Kaizer Chiefs is one of the biggest team on the continent thanks to the dedication and hard work of the founding fathers and past players, duly assisted by the technical teams, management and staff, whose efforts have all contributed to reaching this milestone.
“Kaizer Chiefs is an iconic global brand today because of everyone’s contribution, love and passion. The Chairman has dedicated his life to the success of the Club and has worked tirelessly to build this world-class team and facility, the Village. After all the challenges that came in 2020, I believe that with help of God, 2021 will be a special year for Kaizer Chiefs.”
Although Chiefs are struggling on the domestic front, Ndlanya’s confidence in his former team might be emanating from the fact that they are unbeaten in all their four Champions League matches.
Impressively, Chiefs have won away in Cameroon against PWD Bamenda as well as in Luanda against Angolan champions Primeiro Agosto.
Meanwhile, Amakhosi chairman Kaizer Motaung has blamed the coronavirus pandemic for the team’s faltering in last season’s Premier Soccer League (PSL) title race.
It was a spectacular fall for the then Ernst Middendorp-coached Amakhosi who had led the standings for 28 games and came within 31 minutes of clinching the league crown.
But they drew 1-1 with Baroka FC on the last day of the campaign to allow Sundowns to overtake them right at the death as they needed a win to claim the league title for the first time since 2015.
“Our 50th anniversary was meant to be a special moment in history,” Motaung told the club website.
“But as we all know our plans were interrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic. We started brightly and focused our attention to lifting the Premiership until Covid-19 struck and halted our plans. We lost the title at the final hurdle of the league marathon.
“Be that as it may, we are entering this anniversary, with a renewed commitment to do our best. We still face difficulties and challenges given the continued pandemic, but we remain positive with the promise of hope as we seek out the opportunities to claw back what belongs to us.”
Chiefs’ difficulties in the current PSL campaign has seen them win just one league match, drawing four and losing three, just two points better than bottom-placed Black Leopards.