Stuart Baxter has admitted that Kaizer Chiefs have work to do on their defending, after a lacklustre week against two Soweto rivals.
A 1-0 defeat to Pirates in the first leg of the MTN8 semifinal on Saturday was followed on Tuesday night by a rather fortuitous 1-1 league draw against Moroka Swallows, with Amakhosi grateful to Itumeleng Khune for some superb second half saves.
Chiefs now travel to SuperSport on Saturday afternoon for another Absa Premiership clash, under a little pressure to find the sort of form that made them such a dominant force last season.
The game against the Birds saw a torpid first half followed by an enthralling second, that left Baxter praising his team’s attacking play, but being rather less enthused by the performance against Swallows’ attack.
“The second half must have been fantastic for supporters, it was a classic derby,” said Baxter. “At one stage we were on top, then they scored (Lerato Chabangu gave the Birds the lead, cancelled out by Bernard Parker’s penalty).
“We had to battle really then. We had one problem with them leaving players in the holes behind our fullbacks. We usually deal with that better. We didn’t slide as well as usual, we didn’t get our defensive midfielders dropping between the centre backs.
“We need to work on some of our defending. At times I thought our attacking play was outstanding, as good as we have played since I have been here. We were playing between the lines with penetrating runs and sharp possession.
“I don’t think anyone completely controlled the game in the second half. At times Swallows controlled it and at times we did, but no one owned the game. As a coach you want it to be a bit more stable and we will be working on our defending.”
Baxter also acknowledged that nerves played a part in Chiefs’ poor first-half display, particularly after coming off a defeat to Pirates. “I did think we looked something in between nervous and over-ambitious,” he said.
“The players really wanted to give a good account of themselves. When you play for a club like Chiefs, expectation is always high, and that places pressure on you. Losing a game against Pirates is not acceptable for a lot of people here. We really needed to bounce back and give a performance, and it was very much on their minds.
“Both Pirates and Swallows gave us problems and won’t go away from here saying it is really difficult to play us. They will say it is difficult at times, but at times we got a hold of it (the game). We need to stretch the time we are playing well and dust up on the stuff we are not doing well.”
Baxter also tried to deflect a little pressure onto SuperSport ahead of Saturday’s game.
“We are away to SuperSport and maybe in a way we become a bit more neutral playing away,” he said. “We are going to a team that has invested a lot of money and maybe the pressure turns around and becomes a bit of their property. We can go there and have a real go at it.”
Swallows coach Zeca Marques, meanwhile, was delighted with the point, that he feels can give his side confidence going in to the new season. “I told the players the least we should walk away with is one point and we achieved our objective,” he said. “Khune pulled off three excellent saves; the point Chiefs got was thanks to him.”
Swallows now host MP Black Aces tomorrow night, Clive Barker’s side having pulled off a superb 2-1 win at AmaZulu on Tuesday.
“I think Aces should be more concerned than us, because we got a point at the FNB Stadium,” said Marques. “However we can’t take Aces for granted, I said from the beginning Aces will surprise a lot of people, and we don’t want to be surprised on Friday.”
Swallows are also on the verge of adding a striker to their squad before the transfer window closes, with 28-year-old forward Nkosinathi Ogle expected to sign in the next few days. - The Star