JOHANNESBURG – KAIZER Chiefs striker Samir Nurkovic insists that he plans to continue knocking on Simba SC’s door in the return leg of their Champions League quarter-final tomorrow, despite their healthy advantage from the first leg at home last Saturday.
A week ago, the Glamour Boys took a giant step in their bid to qualify for their first semi-finals of the continental showpiece as they thumped Simba 4-0 at home with a brace from Nurkovic and goals from Eric Mathoho and Leonardo Castro.
Amakhosi flew to Tanzania yesterday to face Simba for the return leg, fully aware that they are not home and dry yet. And the man nicknamed “Kokota Piano” by the club supporters says he won't drop his guard.
“It was an amazing feeling to score. The Amakhosi family know they are not just calling me ‘Kokota Piano’, they know that I am always there and I am trying to make them proud,” said the big Serbian, who was drafted into the CAF Team of the Week for his performance.
Chiefs will know that they cannot afford to underestimate Simba who have recorded one of the greatest comebacks in CAF history. In 1979, Simba lost 4-0 at home in the first leg of the competition before thumping Mufulira Wanderers 5-0 in the return leg.
“We can’t really think about those things. All that we need to do is to stay focused on our game, how we are going to play and how we’ll also perform,” Nurkovic said. “We haven’t had enough time to do a lot of things but we have to stay focused with the same fighting spirit.”
Chiefs have punched above their weight to reach this stage of the competition, considering that the odds were stacked against them after an underwhelming outing in domestic football. They are in the bottom half of the standings with 29 points.
“As an individual, I am always working hard and want to achieve the best possible result. So far so good for us. I am really happy for myself and the team because everyone is working hard and giving their best to ensure that we achieve our goals,” Nurkovic said.
— Kaizer Chiefs (@KaizerChiefs) May 20, 2021
Nurkovic’s season has been below par compared to his maiden campaign at Chiefs. This term, the 28-year-old has contributed four goals and four assists in 26 outings, while last season he scored 16 goals and registered six assists in 31 appearances.
A huge contributing factor in Nurkovic’s decline was missing out on the pre-season and almost the entire first half of the season due to an injury. And it may have taken him longer to adjust under new coach Gavin Hunt who took charge this season.
“We know that the form of a football player sometimes drops. But everyone knows that I had a lot of problems at the beginning of the season. I missed a lot of games due to an injury. It was a difficult time for me but I am trying my best to reach the old form,” Nurkovic said.