Baxter plays down Chiefs' eight-point lead

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Maluleka_Chiefs Gallo Images New Kaizer Chiefs signing George Maluleka (left) consults Kingston Nkatha and Barnard Parker during the match against Mamelodi Sundowns. Picture: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Pretoria – Despite stretching their advantage to eight points at the top of the Premiership table, Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter believes Thursday’s 1-0 victory over Mamelodi Sundowns will not decide who wins the league this season.

“The game tonight was an important one, of course it was. It was between two teams that are competing to be at the top of the league,” Baxter said after the game at Loftus Versfeld in Pretoria.

“It was never going to be a decider, not in any way, shape or form.”

Chiefs grabbed the lead, courtesy of a Sundowns own-goal, which extended their winning streak to seven consecutive Premiership games, equalling the club record.

Baxter, however, said Amakhosi still had a long way to go in defending their title.

“If Sundowns had won, they would’ve closed the gap on us and given themselves a lot of momentum.

“If we won the game, we were only opening that gap and giving ourselves a little bit more of a cushion. Yes it equals Chiefs' all-time record of wins, and I’m sure the players will draw confidence from that.”

The Soweto giants headed into the clash with a five point advantage over Sundowns and just eight minutes into the highly-anticipated affair, Wayne Arendse sent the ball into his own net, and Chiefs saw out the result.

“That game was representative of a match between two teams competing for the championship, I think even the neutrals would have been very pleased to watch an exciting game like that,” Baxter said.

The former Bafana Bafana coach admitted Sundowns looked the better team at times and were unfortunate not to come away with a better result against a Chiefs side which was struggling to keep up with their Pretoria neighbours.

“I was glad at the end of the game to come away with the victory,” Baxter said.

“I said to Pitso afterwards that sometimes you play good football and you don’t get your just rewards. I thought we battled our way through to a three-pointer.

“So I’m very pleased to take the three points. If I was Pitso (Mosimane), I’d be a little bit disappointed because sometimes you lose and you can’t be disappointed because you didn’t play well, but I thought they (Sundowns) played very well tonight.”

With 33 points from their 15 games thus far, the Glamour Boys moved clear of the rest of the chasing pack, but Sundowns have a game in hand over Chiefs, so the Brazilians could yet reduce the deficit to five points.

“If they win their game in hand, they’re back in contention,” Baxter said.

“(The win) gives us momentum because we respect Sundowns and their players so, therefore, it gives us more self-confidence.” – Sapa

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