Goalkeeper Bvuma's meteoric rise takes Kaizer Chiefs toward final
A series of superb saves from the 26-year-old enabled the Johannesburg club to stun hosts Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 last weekend in the first leg of their semi-final.
JOHANNESBURG - CAF Champions League surprise side Kaizer Chiefs of South Africa are on the verge of reaching the final on Saturday thanks in part to the meteoric rise of goalkeeper Bruce Bvuma.
A series of superb saves from the 26-year-old enabled the Johannesburg club to stun hosts Wydad Casablanca of Morocco 1-0 last weekend in the first leg of their semifinal.
Chiefs have not conceded in six home matches en route to the penultimate stage and another clean sheet at FNB Stadium will seal a place in the 17 July final in Casablanca.
Bvuma began the season last October as the third choice behind Itumeleng Khune and Nigerian Daniel Akpeyi, but injuries offered him chances to shine.
"His career is really taking off," co-caretaker coach Arthur Zwane said of Bvuma. "His brilliance in Morocco has taken us within sight of the final."
Here, AFP Sport looks ahead to the return matches with title-holders Al Ahly of Egypt facing Esperance of Tunisia and in a similar position to Chiefs - leading 1-0 and having home advantage.
Zwane and co-coach Dillon Sheppard have spent this week warning Chiefs supporters that the tie against two-time champions Wydad is far from over.
"It is half-time and we are leading 1-0," said Zwane. "I expect Wydad to come at us from the kick-off with all guns blazing, seeking an early goal to cancel our aggregate advantage."
Wydad rested their first team for a midweek domestic championship victory at Renaissance Berkane to ensure stars like forward Ayoub el Kaabi will be fresh for the second leg.
"I cannot fault my players," veteran coach Faouzi Benzarti said as he recalled the first leg. "They dominated the match but luck was not on our side."
Wydad have yet to win a Champions League match in South Africa, drawing twice and losing twice against Mamelodi Sundowns over three seasons from 2017.
Esperance supporters invaded a training session in Tunis this week and reportedly assaulted several players as anger at the first-leg loss continued.
Before the first leg, some hard-core Blood and Gold fans in the national stadium taunted police, who responded by firing tear gas and stun grenades.
After winning the 2018 and 2019 editions of the marquee African club competition, Esperance had hopes of a record third consecutive title dashed by another Egyptian club, Zamalek.
Now they are facing a second knockout-stage exit in as many seasons by a Cairo outfit as a draw will take record nine-time winners Ahly to a 14th Champions League final.
First leg match-winner Mohamed Sherif is the chief Ahly threat while Esperance hope Mohamed Ali Ben Romdhane can add to his five goals in Africa this season.