Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs might be the early season Absa Premiership pace-setters, but there also seem to be enough wise heads around Naturena right now to keep their feet firmly on the ground.
Coach Stuart Baxter, for one, brought in this season to end a seven-year-itch and bring title glory to the Amakhosi, is not about to get over-excited about his side’s start, if 13 points from a possible 15 represent promising roots.
A potential R1,5-million for finishing top at the end of the first eight games, thanks to another bizarre Premier Soccer League gimmick, looms, but it is about where Chiefs finish at the end of the season that truly matters.
As such, Baxter’s analysis of the recent Wits game was eminently sensible on Thursday, discussing as much staying cool and solving a weakness, as pointing out the joys of another success.
“The performance was okay, especially the first half, where we were offensively very good,” said Baxter. “(But) we spoke this morning at length about our tendency to let opponents back in the game. We want to put that straight.”
Against Mamelodi Sundowns, Black Leopards and Wits, Chiefs have led 2-0, only to test their nerves by conceding.
“We need to make the boys humble and make sure we know there is a long way to go,” added Baxter. “There is a lot of hard work and we need to keep applying ourselves.”
Chiefs’ next opponents, newly-promoted Chippa United, could provide the Amakhosi with a test of their credentials on Saturday night at the FNB Stadium.
The Cape side picked up their first win of the season against Bloemfontein Celtic on Wednesday and really have nothing to lose against Chiefs.
“I have seen two or three of their games, and we will see one more, and break it down into detailed analysis to present to the players,” said Baxter.
“I have seen enough to say they deserve our full respect and we shouldn’t make a mistake on that tone. I expect them to come and play with confidence and take the opportunity to play the game at Soccer City on a big pitch, with very little pressure on them. I’m sure after their win, they are thinking they are going to come and have a real go at us. By playing expansively against us, we will have possibilities in other areas, but it will mean we have to be 100 percent concentrated.
“We need to be at our best because they have the ability to be very dangerous opponents.”
Baxter does have some injury concerns ahead of the Chippa United game, with right-back Siboniso Gaxa added to the long-term casualty list, after picking up an ankle injury against Wits.
“It doesn’t look a nice one, his foot is very swollen and at the moment we could be looking at a month,” said Baxter.
With Jimmy Tau also out with a toe problem, Baxter is likely to go with either Lincoln Zvayisa or Kgotso Moleko at right-back against Chippa United. There was better news over the injury to left-back Tsepo Masilela, who has started working with the ball again in training. – The Star