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Thursday, September 21, 2023

Nurkovic the star as Kaizer Chiefs stun Simba in 4-0 thrashing

A highly successful group stage campaign gave Simba plenty of hope and expectation going into the CAF Champions League quarter-finals, but the Tanzanian champions suffered a devastating 4-0 first-leg defeat to Kaizer Chiefs in South Africa on Saturday to put their chances in serious jeopardy. Serbian striker Samir Nurkovic provided the assist on Eric Mathoho’s opener before adding two quality strikes of his own to aid a Kaizer Chiefs side that have found a rich vein of form in continental competition as their domestic struggles continue.

The tone was set early on by an enterprising Amakhosi side who were able to put Simba on their heels right away. Following a close chance for Lebogang Manyama, the ensuing 6th minute corner-kick found Nurkovic at the near post and his flick-on was headed into the roof of the net by defender Eric Mathoho. Simba were never able to get themselves going and their spells of possession amounted to nothing while Chiefs made full use of their time on the ball and were clinical in the final third.

Nurkovic’s first goal in the 34th minute was a perfect example of how the match went. Right-back Reeve Frosler sent in a speculative but accurate diagonal cross that found Nurkovic at the far post, who directed a thunderous header into the top corner past Simba keeper Aishi Manula.

The second half was just like the first as Simba manager Didier Gomes da Rosa failed to rouse his charges during halftime. A six minute span that featured two goals sealed the victory for Amakhosi and likely advancement to the semi-finals.

Manyama surged into the Simba penalty area after flicking the ball over a defender before full-back Mohamed Husseini intervened. However, in his attempts to tackle the ball away Husseini tapped the ball over to a wide open Nurkovic in front of the goal, who made no mistake by drilling a volley past the helpless Manula. Direct play once again unraveled the Tanzanian side for the fourth goal scored by Leonardo Castro when a 63rd minute long ball was poorly cleared by the Simba defense to Manyama, who sent in a perfect diagonal cross to find the surging Colombian for a perfect headed goal.

Simba offered shockingly little resistance and will need all the support from their raucous home crowd in the second leg next week. Highlights of the game are below.