Johannesburg – Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has again preached caution about the rotation of his squad and his dislike for chopping-and-changing his starting line-up.
The Glamour Boys set-up a Soweto Derby meeting with Orlando Pirates in the final of the MTN8 on September 20, courtesy of a 3-0 (5-0 aggregate) victory over Platinum Stars in the second-leg of their semi-final at FNB Stadium on Sunday.
Leading 2-0 on aggregate heading into the game, Baxter resisted the temptation to rest several first-choice players, making just two changes to his outfit, which had previously remained unchanged in five outings.
“Rotation for me is not just taking turns. Rotation is around your opponent, rotation is about retaining some form of consistency,” Baxter said afterwards.
“I wanted to make a couple of changes because I wanted to rest a couple of the lads that have got a bit of a 1/8niggle 3/8.
“If you rotate four or five players and we lose our balance, and they score, then you’re in trouble because there’s not the quality of organisation that we’ve built-up.
“People start thinking that organisation doesn’t matter, the structure of the team doesn’t matter… it does.”
Baxter did, however, manage to bring on Siphiwe Tshabalala from the bench, following an injury which saw the veteran winger miss out on all six of the clubs' fixtures this season, save for 10
minutes on Sunday.
Tshabalala was Baxter’s third and final change after he had introduced Morgan Gould and Katlego Mphela with a half-an-hour left to play, giving Erick Mathoho a break in the process.
“I wanted to put in another couple (Gould and Mphela) and I wanted to give Shabba (Tshabalala) a run at the finish,” Baxter said.
“That’s about what you can handle. If you do more than that, rotation becomes a nasty word, it becomes like, ‘when is my turn?’
“We did what we wanted to do but, at the same time, it was an important semi-final.”
Baxter praised Amakhosi for a clinical performance and was quick to point out that Chiefs refused to rest on their 2-0 advantage going into the game.
“It was a difficult game mentally for the players, I thought they approached it very professionally and of course, I'm delighted to go through to the final,” the former Bafana Bafana mentor said.
“To dominate this game today was maybe easier because we'd got the scenario that we wanted (in the first leg).
“What we didn’t want was that they come and score a first goal, because then there’s nerves in the game.”
A man-of-the-match performance from Reneilwe Letsholonyane left Baxter a happy coach with his talisman in midfield, who put in arguably his best showing this season, having played 90 minutes in all six games.
“Ye-Ye’s come back refreshed after the (end of last season). He’s felt fitter, stronger, and I think that added confidence, together with the way the team has played, has allowed him to get on the ball and express himself a little bit more.
“His running power is vital for us because he arrives in the box and he arrives where people find it difficult to mark him.
“He has played well. It was a very strong performance by him today, but he has played well in all games.”
The Soweto giants ensured a second derby meeting with the Buccaneers early in the season, following the Carling Black Label Cup before the start of the 2014/15 campaign. At least two more derbies await when the fierce rivals clash in the league, home and away.
Pirates booked their spot in the final thanks to a 3-1 (5-1
aggregate) victory over Wits in Soweto on Saturday, securing a second successive appearance for the Sea Robbers, who lost out to Platinum Stars a year ago. – Sapa