Johannesburg – Coach Stuart Baxter said Kaizer Chiefs had lost to “a poor team” after a 2-1 defeat in the first leg Confederation Cup tie against the Ivory Coast's ASEC Mimosas at the Dobsonville Stadium on Sunday.
Baxter admitted that the defending Premier League champions had lacked sparkle and looked listless at times against ASEC.
“We dominated play territorially and should still have won the game,” Baxter said.
The Chiefs coach also defended his policy of leaving out a handful of first-team regulars against the methodical and composed Ivorians.
“We are going through a gruelling, traumatic period in which we are competing for honours in three different events at the same time,” he said.
“It's understandably a tough test for the players, both from a physical and mental point of view and there are times when it is simply advisable that players are rested.
“We now face the prospect of tough encounters against Wits University in both the Premier League and the semi-final of the Nedbank Cup in a short space of time, in addition to travelling to the Ivory Coast for the second-leg encounter against Mimosas.”
Under pressure Chiefs once more came face-to-face with the realities of competing in CAF's continental tournaments while going down to ASEC.
Chiefs must now travel to Abidjan for the second leg with ASEC not only having home advantage but also boosted by having scored two away goals.
“That is the reality of the situation but we are not lessening our resolve to succeed,” Baxter said.
“I know my players will fight to the end and I'm confident we will come out of this ordeal with something to show for it.”
Amakhosi trailed 1-0 for much of the match against Asec after captain Eurand Zagbayou opened the score in the 36th minute.
They appeared to have salvaged a draw when Matthwe Rusike equalised with a powerful, well-placed angled shot in the 87th minute.
Chiefs' joy was short-lived with an opportunist ASEC taking advantage of slack Amakhosi defending to regain the lead in the final minutes when the unmarked Boauh guided the ball into an undefended net.
It was a lacklustre performance from Chiefs and reflected why Mamelodi Sundowns have overtaken them at the head of the PSL championship log in spite of two games in hand.
The statistics against ASEC reflected the pattern of play, with Chiefs enjoying 60 percent possession, but ASEC having almost twice as many shots on target for a disciplined, deserved victory. – Sapa