Can Nurkovic save Chiefs?

Menzi Magubane

Could Samir “Kokota” Nurkovic be Kaizer Chiefs’ saving grace and end Amakhosi’s goal drought? Nurkovic has the qualities that coach Gavin Hunt has been missing upfront for Chiefs.

The striker’s capabilities and the 14 goals he scored last season speak for themselves. But Chiefs defender Ramahlwe Mphahlele said the club’s recent slump can’t be solved by Nurkovic alone. 

Nurkovic has yet to be featured in any Chiefs matches this season due to injury. 

“We can’t put pressure on Samir. Yes, we are happy that he is back but we can’t expect him to come in and deliver goals for us. We know Samir’s capabilities but we can’t put all the burden on him. There are other players who can score goals,” Mphahlele.

On Sunday the Serbian marksman traveled with Amakhosi to Angola to face Premeiro de Agosto on Tuesday afternoon. This second leg CAF Champions League preliminary round encounter will be held at  Estadio 11 de Novembro at 5pm in South African time. 

The first leg ended 0-0 at FNB Stadium in Soweto a fortnight ago. The winner tomorrow will progress to the group stages of the competition.

Mphahlele, who wore the captain’s armband in the absence of Itumeleng Khune in the first leg, expressed the importance of starting the new year with a win.

“We know that we should have easily won the first leg by three or four goals. But it didn’t happen and now we are here. We need this win badly because we know how important it is to start a new year on a positive note.

“Also we are serious about this competition. The club has never before progressed into the group stages in this competition and we want to end that. The coach is willing to go the extra mile in competition and so are we,” said Mphahlele.

Mphahlele is likely to captain the team again tomorrow after Khune and Willard Katsande were left at home. Daniel Akpeyi and Bruce Bvuma are the two goalkeepers that Hunt took with them. 

In other news, Orlando Pirates’ CAF Confederation Cup opponents Sagrada Esperanca have withdrawn from the competition. The second leg match was scheduled for Wednesday at Johannesburg Stadium, but the Angolan side have decided not to travel, citing the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Buccaneers, who won the first leg 1-0, will now go straight into the play-offs to qualify for the Confederation Cup group stages, where they will play one of the losers from the final qualifying for the group stages of the Caf Champions League. The draw for the play-offs is set to take place on January 17.

Picture source: @SamirNurkovic