Johannesburg – Humbled by their rivals at the weekend, Kaizer Chiefs face another stern test of their Absa Premiership defence when they host Moroka Swallows at FNB Stadium on Tuesday night (7.30pm).
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter on Monday backed his men to bounce back following their cup loss to Orlando Pirates on Saturday – a result that has many doubting champions Amakhosi’s strength this early in the season.
“There’s no doubt that Saturday’s result has put massive pressure on the players to react (tonight). It’s absolutely important that we turn it around,” Baxter said.
He confessed to having given the players an earful in the half-time talk on Saturday, adding he wouldn’t want to repeat it tonight.
“It’s well-documented that our first-half performance against Pirates wasn’t great at all. What was said in that changeroom at halftime … I hope I never get to say it again. I don’t think I’ll get to speak to my players many times like that.
“I thought they were better than what they showed, and they know it. The main thing now is to show character in the next game.”
Baxter revealed he’ll make changes to his starting XI for Tuesday’s clash, which is Chiefs’ first home league game of the season – in winning the title last year, they didn’t lose a home fixture.
“There will be a couple of changes, for sure. And that’s not merely because we lost to Pirates. You look at loading the players correctly, with the amount of games we still have to play.”
It’s likely that striker Knowledge Musona will start, while Baxter was clearly unhappy on Saturday about the performance of rough-tackling midfielder Willard Katsande.
One of the criticisms levelled at Baxter’s team following Saturday’s loss to Bucs was their supposed limitation, with many pointing out Chiefs do not have enough depth on the bench to turn games around when things don’t go their way.
Baxter conceded “Pirates have the biggest squad at the moment and have beefed it up nicely”, but said he too could make additions to his side, with just one week before the transfer window period closes.
“We thought we should persist with the players from last year, because they did very well. Our squad is adequate, but we will be looking to add two more players before the deadline.
“Again, that’s not because we lost to Pirates. It’s because these are players we have been monitoring for some time.
“We have never been in the business of signing people because they are available. We have discussed those names and I think it’s now the time that they come in,” the Briton said, without revealing the names.
Chiefs will still be without Siyabonga Nkosi tonight, although Baxter disclosed the midfielder was close to full fitness. “He’s playing in the reserves, and while he hasn’t showed any discomfort, he won’t be ready for (tonight’s) game.”
Amakhosi may be heading back to Soccer City with their heads down, but one thing that should lift them is their recent record against Swallows – Chiefs have won all their past six league clashes with the Birds.
THIS WEEK’S FIXTURES
(Matches at 7.30pm unless stated)
Tuesday: Kaizer Chiefs v Swallows, FNB Stadium; AmaZulu v Aces, Princess Magogo Stadium
Wednesday: FS Stars v Maritzburg, Charles Mopeli Stadium, 6pm; Tuks v SuperSport, Tuks Stadium; Sundowns v Platinum Stars, Loftus; Wits v Arrows, BIDVest Stadium; Polokwane City v Celtic, Peter Mokaba Stadium
Friday: Swallows v Aces, Dobsonville, 8pm
Saturday: Arrows v Sundowns, King Zwelithini Stadium, 3pm; Platinum Stars v Polokwane City, Royal Bafokeng, 3pm; SuperSport v Chiefs, Lucas Moripe Stadium, 6pm; Maritzburg v Tuks, Harry Gwala Stadium, 8.15pm
Sunday: Celtic v FS Stars, Free State Stadium, 3pm; Ajax v AmaZulu, Cape Town Stadium, 3pm