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Wednesday, November 29, 2023

Kaizer Chiefs book their CAFCL quarter-final spot in dramatic fashion with 2-2 draw against Horoya in Conakry

In a season never short on drama, Kaizer Chiefs clinched qualification to the CAF Champions League quarter-finals at the expense of Guinean club Horoya with a 2-2 draw in Conakry on Saturday. Khama Billiat scored a 76th minute equalizer in his first start since returning from injury to send Amakhosi through in a wild encounter that saw three goals scored within ten minutes in the second-half. In the other match Wydad Casablanca clinched top spot in Group C with a comfortable 2-0 win at home against Petro de Luanda.

Both teams’ attacks put in a labored performance to start in Conakry but the match gradually picked up in urgency and intensity. Kaizer Chiefs in particular struggled to threaten without target forwards Samir Nurkovic and Leonardo Castro while the hosts continued to underwhelm in the final third. However, on the stroke of halftime Chiefs were caught sleeping on a Horoya corner-kick and Yakhouba Barry scored his second CAFCL goal with a header past Itumelang Khune in goal.

Despite not looking particularly dangerous, Kaizer Chiefs were kept in the game by a Horoya team that could not find that goal to stretch their lead, Ocansey Mandela’s poor finish at the start of the second-half standing out. Against the run of play in the 66th minute the match sprung to life when Horoya were whistled for a handball in their penalty area, allowing Chiefs center-back Daniel Cardoso to equalize from the spot. Overjoyed, the visitors then conceded a second to Horoya from yet another poorly defended corner-kick, Sekou Camara’s goal putting them right back to chasing the game.

This time Chiefs would not fold, however, and they dug deep to find the crucial equalizer. A cross from Dumisani Zuma found Billiat and the Zimbabwean attacker’s shot was deflected past Robert Odongkara in the Horoya goal. A hopeful Morlaye Sylla volley in stoppage time nearly sent Horoya through, but Khune did brilliantly to tip the bouncing shot over and seal the all important point for an elated Chiefs side.

The other game had a lot less suspense as Wydad were efficient and merciless in a 2-0 win. Last-placed Petro offered little resistance on the 15th minute opener from Walid El Karti before Mohamed Ounajem scored with a wonderful free-kick goal in the 22nd. Wydad will go through to the quarter-finals as Group C winners and a real contender in the knockout stages.

Highlights from both games are below.

Horoya 2-2 Kaizer Chiefs

Wydad Casablanca 2-0 Petro de Luanda

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