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Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter will have to overcome a first-round knockout competition jink which has best him this season.
Baxter endured a disastrous first match as Amakhosi coach, in the MTN8 last year, when his side were given a 4-1 hiding by Mamelodi Sundowns in the first round.
The former Bafana Bafana coach recovered from the bruising defeat to Johan Neeskens’ side and helped his side to a good run of results in the league.
When the Telkom Knockout came along, the coach must have felt he had a better shot at progressing to the next round. He was used to his surroundings a bit more than he was when Chiefs played Sundowns and he had found his formations in the team.
Chiefs were drawn to play Wits in the competition but, by the time the final whistle was blown, Baxter and his boys could only hang their heads in disappointment as another chance to win silverware slipped away. Wits won 3-2 to bring an abrupt end to Amakhosi’s Telkom Knockout competition.
Chiefs are yet to show the guile and guts that had won them countless trophies since they were established, but have a chance to redeem themselves in the season’s last knockout competition.
Baxter’s men head into the Nedbank Cup this weekend on the back of some good results in the Premiership. They take on Wits again in a first-round match, this time at Mbombela Stadium on Saturday night (8.15pm).
And while league form never really counts in knockout competitions, Itumeleng Khune and Co will believe Amakhosi have a better chance of progressing to the next round.
Needing to win trophies to make up for their horrible campaign with Vladimir Vermezovic last season, Chiefs have a shot at finishing the season on a high with a league and cup double, something which should entice the entire Amakhosi camp.
In Wits, though, top-of-the-table Chiefs have tricky opponents who are on a high following their comeback win against Premiership rookies Chippa United.
The Clever Boys have an experienced coach in Clive Barker who won the tournament with Santos in 2000.
Wits have assembled a strong squad this season and CEO Jose Ferreira would expect the side to do well in the competition after spending millions to bring in the likes of Aaron Mokoena, Matthew Pattison, Calvin Kadi and Tinashe Nengomasha. – Star Africa