Can Chiefs compete in Africa?

CAF Champions League

Having failed to win anything on the local front since lifting the Absa Premiership trophy in 2014/15, Chiefs’ CAF Confederation Cup campaign presents another opportunity for silverware.

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They have already fallen short in the MTN8 and Telkom Knockout thus far and will now need to split their attention between the league race and what could become strenuous continental travels.

Starting off with a two-legged tie against Zanzibarian outfit Zimamoto in the preliminary round, Amakhosi are certainly favourites to progress, given their superior quality and stature.

Eager to bounce back from their Soweto Derby cup semi-final defeat over the weekend, this will be a tie worth going all out for to boost their confidence and morale, while also offering opportunities to players needing to rediscover their form.

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Should they progress, Giovanni Solinas’s charges would meet either Equatorial Guinea side Deportivo Unidad or Madagascar’s ASM Elgeco Plus, who were previously beaten by SuperSport United in the 2017 campaign, in the first round.

Either of these sides possess little pedigree, with Unidad making their first appearance in the competition in recent history, while Elgeco have failed to progress past the preliminary round in two previous attempts.

With the likes of Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro – who won the CAF Champions League with Mamelodi Sundowns in 2016 – as well as Ramahlwe Mphahlele, Itumeleng Khune, Godfrey Walusimbi, Willard Katsande and Bernard Parker, who all possess continental experience at club or international level, Chiefs should find it relatively comfortable in the initial stages.

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Their challenge will truly begin when the CAF Champions League first round losers drop into the play-off round prior to the group stages at the start of January.

The Glamour Boys could face a stern test with fixtures against Sundowns on January 5 and Bidvest Wits on January 9, before potentially travelling deep into the continent for their first leg play-off tie on January 11/12.

They would then need to travel to Durban to face AmaZulu on January 15, before traveling for the return leg – either home or away on January 18-20.

With their attention split and squad depth tested, it could become a gruelling spell for Solinas, who will be expected to rotate his men while maintaining their chances of fighting for local honours as well.

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