Johannesburg – It was billed as Kaizer Chiefs’ most challenging and epic clash in the group stages of the Confederation of African Football (CAF) Champions League against the much-decorated north African giants Wydad Casablanca, also known as Wydad Athletic of Morocco, but it was not to be – for now.
Wydad have in the past five seasons won the apex competition five times and have been runners-up once, semi-finalists twice and quarter-finalists once.
It is the first time for Chiefs to reach the group stages of the most prestigious African inter-club competition.
They have been heavily criticised for not taking the tourney seriously, fairly or unfairly, you be the judge.
The Royal Morocco Football Association said Chiefs were not permitted to enter the country due to the country’s lockdown regulations.
As a result, they were denied visas and the federation had written to CAF requesting the match be postponed or shifted to another country.
Football all over the continent is the most followed sport and it remains to be seen how CAF resolves this matter because the eyes of other African nations and continental federations such as Uefa, as well as the international football governing body Fifa, are watching developments in the administration of the sport, more so with CAF presidential elections coming up next month.
But now that the match has been called off, according to the national football controlling body, Safa, what is to become of this fixture?
The matter is now before CAF as the organising committee is expected to revisit the rules and deliberate on the issue before taking a final stand.
The Naturena, south of Jozi-based Amakhosi do not deserve the shabby treatment meted out after going to great lengths to ensure they met all the requirements to enter Morocco to face the Casablanca- based side last night.
Credit to the Chiefs management for ensuring the team met all the requirements for visa applications.
They were sent to the embassy timeously, the fight and accommodation were booked on time for the most-awaited clash by the local fans, including the Wydad supporters, who are crazy about their team.
Fans worship Wydad as their second religion after Islam. Beleaguered as the Soweto giants might be on the domestic front, having lost the historic bragging rights of the Soweto derby 2-1 to archrival Orlando Pirates, and drawing the two previous encounters against Stellenbosch and Baroka with 0-0 and 1-1 score lines respectively, they should be a frustrated bunch of players and coaches as we speak.
I would not blame Chiefs coach Gavin Hunt if he pulls his hair out in frustration following the latest developments. He is a man not afraid to face football challenges despite the fact that he is unhappy with the progress of his team this season, with his side lying eighth on the Premiership log after only four wins, six draws and five losses in the 15 mid-season matches played.
The less said about the Glamour Boys being shamefully booted out of the first round of the Nedbank Cup by first division minnows Richards Bay United the better.
As things stand, Chiefs are in limbo and have to quickly shift focus to the national league, the DStv Premiership, as they are fixtured to host AmaZulu at FNB Stadium on Wednesday afternoon.
Kick-off is at 3pm. The ball is in your court to motivate your players, Gavin.
Follow @SundayWorldZA on Twitter and @sundayworldza on Instagram, or like our Facebook Page, Sunday World, by clicking here for the latest breaking news in South Africa. To Subscribe to Sunday World, click here.