Kaizer Chiefs touched down in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania on Friday to a warm reception, as football fans in the east African nation’s capital gear up to watch their biggest Club, Young Africans SC, take on the Mighty Amakhosi at the Benjamin Mkapa stadium at 6pm (SA local time) on Saturday evening.
Club captain, Itumeleng Khune sees the match against continental opposition as an important factor in Kaizer Chiefs’ near-term ambitions, saying, “Coming to Tanzania is always great for us because, as a team there are certain goals that we want to achieve. We want to compete in the Champions League. We were here not so long ago to play Simba and now we are back again playing against Yanga tomorrow. As players, we are excited. We are looking forward to the match.”
Speaking on the Club’s prospects of ending their wait for a major trophy, the skipper opined, “Kaizer Chiefs is a Club that has rich history in winning cups and it’s not fair that for the past eight years we haven’t been delivering as expected, but with the quality of players that we brought in this season, I think we will challenge for a lot of trophies back at home.”
Young Africans is a well-supported club in Tanzania and are known for having a special relationship with their supporters. When asked whether Amakhosi share a similar bond with their fanbase, Itu was quick to confirm that Kaizer Chiefs are indeed constantly involved with the fans and communities that follow them.
“Yes, definitely,” he replied instantly. “As a big Club we have social responsibilities. We are not only focused on the pitch. For example, last week we were hosting coaching clinics with schools from Zola, in one of the townships in Soweto. We know that we have to plough back to our fans because they go all out in supporting us. Even now we know we are in Tanzania and we are getting the love and respect we deserve as a team. They are expecting a positive result come tomorrow after the match. So, we do a lot for the communities back at home.”
Since the Amakhosi party arrived in the country, the feeling of anticipation surrounding the match has been tangible.
Khune acknowledged that, despite this being a friendly it is a match between two giant footballing institutions with expectations running high among both sets of fanatical fans.
And the skipper vowed that Amakhosi will not be taking the occasion lightly.
“To be honest, we were aware that there is a ‘big derby’taking place here in Tanzania,” he said, “because, as a big Club, we know teams do research about us before we play against them; and we also did the same . We are a professional team with a professional set-up, so we have done a bit of our own homework on Yanga and we know that they have been winning trophies and dominating in the Tanzanian league for the past two seasons.
“So, it is only fair to give them the respect they deserve but once we get on the pitch, we are here to win the match and we are here to make out Khosi Nation proud of their team, and to see how far we are with the preparations for the upcoming season. We know that they competed in the CAF Confederation Cup final last year. We watched the final and we know a lot about them now, so we will battle it out on the field for the 90 minutes,” he concluded, as the squad left for an evening training session.
The match will be televised live on DStv, Channel 205 on Saturday, 22 July, beginning at 18:00.