Stuart Baxter continues to do his best to start a title race in the DStv Premiership, and he did it again after Kaizer Chiefs defeated Orlando Pirates in Saturday’s Soweto derby at Orlando Stadium.
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Baxter had begun discussing a title challenge in that game, even though Chiefs were 19 points behind Sundowns at the time. But if this was a confidence lesson that inspired his players, then it seemed to work, as they defeated Pirates 2-1 for the second time this season.
“We need to put pressure on Sundowns. If we can beat Pirates, which we have, and if we get those two games (in the hand) to play, that’s potential six points,” the Kaizer Chiefs head coach said.
Chiefs refused to play Cape Town City and Golden Arrows in December, following a Covid-19 outbreak at the camp, and have been sued by the Premier Soccer League, but Chiefs have asked for an independent arbiter from the South African Football Association to rule on the matter.
Chiefs can still score all six points from games against City and Arrows, but they clearly seem to be hoping to play those games.
“And if we have to play Sundowns again (on May 8), if we can beat them in that game and keep breathing down their necks, maybe they’ll lose a few points,” added Baxter.
“They are involved on more than one front; they know it’s their competition to lose. I’d be a fool to say we’re going to (win the competition). What we’re going to do, we’re going to go as long as we can, breathe their necks as hard as we can, so that when we actually play them, it means something.”
Baxter’s positivity is certainly in stark contrast to Pirates co-head coach Mandla Ncikazi, who basically conceded the title to Sundowns in the build-up to the derby.
His words didn’t sound right to many in the Ghost and probably demotivated some players as well. They had the potential to take the fight out of the team.
This may be why another Pirates team, fighting with everything they’ve got, shows up for the Café Confederation Cup, while a less determined team shows up for the league games.