Mark Fish believes Stuart Baxter’s ability to pick his Kaizer Chiefs players up after defeat gives them a shot at a sensational comeback in the CAF Champions League.
Chiefs were trounced 3-0 in their second round first leg clash against AS Vita in Kinshasa on Sunday and now face elimination, unless they pull off a remarkable result in the second leg clash at FNB Stadium this coming Saturday to progress to the group phase.
Recently Amakhosi bounced back from a a 2-0 loss to Platinum Stars in the league, subsequently registering victories over Orlando Pirates and Ajax Cape Town to ensure they stay in the driver’s seat at the summit in the Premiership. It’s that ability to respond immediately after setbacks that puts them in a good position to progress to the group stages, Fish feels.
“It will be an uphill battle for them. But I have watched Chiefs under Stuart Baxter in the last two seasons. They have confidence and they have got a lot of faith in themselves. They always bounce back when they need to, after a bad result, and let’s hope they can turn it around in the second leg clash,” said Fish, who won this competition with Orlando Pirates in 1995.
Chiefs have been lethal at home this year in the continental club competition, scoring seven goals in their two matches on home soil against Namibia’s Black Africa and Muculmana of Mozambique. They’ve also kept it tight at the back, keeping a clean sheet in both games, but it was frankly against weaker opposition compared to Vita, who are determined to qualify for the group stages for the first time in their history.
An early goal for Chiefs would unsettle the visitors, but they should guard against conceding. Vita are likely to sit back, use time-wasting tactics, and try and catch Amakhosi on the counter.
“It’s very important for Chiefs to score the first goal and then the pressure is back on the opposition.
“And they need to make sure they do not concede. I heard they played well in the first leg, so they just have to go out there and play as a team and do what they have to do.”
Fish once came out of the DRC (then Zaire) in the late 90s like he had been in the boxing ring with Mike Tyson after fans through missiles on to the pitch.
The retired defender, now an analyst, yesterday relived those memories as he spoke of Bafana’s entire stay in the Central African country.
“Any time you go into Africa it’s always very difficult, especially Central Africa. They always make life harder for us when we go there but when they come here we treat them like family. From the airport people make things difficult and when you get onto the pitch it’s tough because of the crowd.”
Before Chiefs host Vita, they will welcome FC Buffalo to FNB Stadium tomorrow in a Nedbank Cup last 16 clash, as they look to defend the title they won last season.
Baxter is likely to play his fringe players as he rests his key men for the crunch clash with Vita in the Champions League.
Fish was at the Nike Centre in Pimville yesterday. He and former Bafana Bafana captain Lucas Radebe are touring with the Barclays English Premiership trophy.
This week’s PSL fixtures
Today: Platinum Stars v Mamelodi Sundowns, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 7.30pm
Friday: Ajax Cape Town v Black Aces Athlone Stadium, 8pm
Saturday: Platinum Stars v Maritzburg United, Royal Bafokeng Stadium, 3.30pm
Orlando Pirates v Moroka Swallows, Orlando Stadium 6pm
Golden Arrows v Bidvest Wits, King Zwelithini Stadium 8.15pm
Polokwane City v Free State Stars, Old Peter Mokaba Stadium 8.15pm
Sunday: Mamelodi Sundowns v University of Pretoria, Loftus Stadium, 3.30pm
Bloem Celtic v AmaZulu, Kaizer Sebothelo Stadium, 3.30pm
Tomorrow: Kaizer Chiefs v FC Buffalo, FNB Stadium; Moroka Swallows v SuperSport United, Dobsonville Stadium. Both 7pm
P W D L F A Pts
Chiefs 22 15 4 3 34 14 49
Sundowns 22 13 4 5 38 22 43
Wits 21 11 5 5 27 17 38
Pirates 21 10 4 7 23 16 34
SuperSport 22 9 7 6 30 24 34
AmaZulu 24 9 7 8 24 30 34
Platinum 21 8 8 5 23 20 32
Celtic 23 7 11 5 30 28 32
Black Aces 22 8 7 7 25 25 31
Tukkies 23 8 4 11 20 21 28
Ajax 23 7 7 9 21 25 28
Swallows 22 7 6 9 26 29 27
Maritzburg 22 6 6 10 24 31 24
Free State 22 5 5 12 21 33 20
Polokwane 23 5 4 14 23 33 19
Arrows 21 4 1 16 17 38 13 - The Star