These things happen in soccer – Stuart Baxter

2014-05-07 15:21

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There will be no recriminations, but Kaizer Chiefs need to evaluate their dramatic late-season decline in which they failed to annex any of the four major titles they were pursuing.

This was the view of Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter after the final nail was knocked into the coffin of Chiefs’ bid to retain the Premier League title despite an unimpressive, controversial 1-0 victory over Pretoria University in Nelspruit last night.

“These things happen in soccer, not only in South Africa, but worldwide,” Baxter said.

“Instances of leading teams having the tables turned on them have abounded in recent weeks. In Europe’s Champions League, in the English Premiership and the Spanish La Liga most prominently.

“For all this, it would be naive for Chiefs not to evaluate what went wrong – what, if any, were our shortcomings and what is needed to eliminate them in the future. After this is done, we can determine whether we need any reinforcements and in what departments they are required.”

He said the club also had a productive development programme and it would need to see which of the promising youngsters were ready to join the Premier League ranks.

Chiefs’ fate was sealed by virtue of Mamelodi Sundowns gaining a simultaneous win over SuperSport United in the Pretoria derby at Loftus Stadium yesterday – thereby maintaining the Brazilians’ four-point lead over the Amakhosi going into Saturday’s final round of league fixtures.

It was Sundowns’ record sixth PSL championship, but their first in seven years.

“I have to congratulate Sundowns for the manner in which they came back at the end of the season,” said Baxter.

“They demonstrated the consistency we failed to emulate.”

Just as they appeared in most of their games over the last six weeks, Chiefs hardly covered themselves in glory against Tuks and only gained their three points via a controversial 76th-minute penalty, converted ironically by the recently signed former Sundowns striker, Katlego Mphela.

Added to the bitter taste of defeat that the Pretoria University side experienced was the fact that they had the ball in the net seven minutes earlier only for a hair’s breadth decision to go against them and the goal to be ruled offside.

Chiefs only took control of the proceedings in the final 15 minutes as the morale of the Tuks players appeared to sag as a result of the strokes of good fortune going against them – and the outgoing champions might easily have added to their goal tally.

Chiefs led Sundowns by an effective nine points on the log table little more than six weeks ago before their ambitious march to honour in four different events collapsed.

Elimination from Caf’s prestigious Champions League before the round robin stage at the hands of the DRC’s AS Vita was followed by a humbling exit against Ivory Coast’s Asec Mimosas in Caf’s Confederation Cup.

Then came the loss against Wits in the semifinal of the Nedbank Cup last weekend which ended their hopes of retaining that particular title – and now this at Mbombela to top up their cup of woe with what was no more than a Pyrrhic victory.

As for Tuks, coach Steve Barker said he could not fault his players for “a gallant performance” and a satisfactory season under difficult circumstances despite their 12th position on the log table.

“As for the penalty which won the game for Chiefs and our disallowed goal, I don’t think the soccer gods were with us in either incident that eventually decided the outcome,” he said.

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