South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs will face Egypt's Al Ahly on Saturday 17 July in Casablanca, Morocco, in the first Champions League final in their history. No one expected them to reach this stage of the competition.
It is without doubt that they are the surprise of the 2021 edition of the CAF Champions League . Kaizer Chiefs have beaten the odds by knocking out big clubs to reach the final of the competition.
They knocked out Horoya AC of Guinea and Simba FC of Tanzania to reach the semi-finals. In the last four, they got the better of WAC of Casablanca, who won the first leg 1-0 and drew the second leg 0-0 to reach their first ever LDC final.
The team from Soweto, a suburb of Johannesburg, had never before played in the group stage of Africa's most prestigious club competition.
Kaizer Chiefs and Stuart Baxter
This performance is partly due to Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter. The English coach, who recently returned to the fold, had led Kaizer Chiefs from 2012 to 2015. A stint marked by several successes including two South African championship titles.
Baxter was replaced by South African Gavin Hunt, who will be sacked a few days after the defeat in Tanzania. South Africa's Kaizer Chiefs had a major scare in the quarter-finals against Tanzania's Simba Sports Club. They won the first leg 4-0, but lost the second leg 3-0, narrowly missing out on elimination.
The managers did not remain deaf to this warning shot. They fired Hunt, despite the historic qualification, and recalled Baxter.
Following in the footsteps of Orlando Pirates
Kaizer Chiefs are on the verge of an even greater achievement than their qualification for the final: victory over Al Ahly, the trophy holders. But if they win in Casablanca, the Soweto club would not be the first South African team to achieve this. It was 26 years ago, in 1995, that Orlando Pirates won the Champions League in Abidjan, Côte d'Ivoire.
"I can feel history repeating itself here," enthused South African Football Association (SAFA) president Danny Jordaan. He congratulated Kaizer Chiefs on reaching the final and hoped they would be able to do it again on 17 July.
Mamelodi Sundowns is the third South African team to have played (and lost) a Champions League final alongside Chiefs and Pirates.