Baxter backs Chiefs’ depth

2013-04-12 13:20

An understrength Kaizer Chiefs side are ready for battle, according to head coach Stuart Baxter, when they meet Bloemfontein Celtic in the Nedbank Cup quarterfinals at Free State Stadium tomorrow.

“It’s a difficult one going to Bloemfontein, so we know the challenge and we have our issues with injuries as well,” Baxter said.

“We know it’s going to be a challenge so we need to make sure we’re up for it.”

Amakhosi, seven points clear at the top of the league standings, are without defenders Morgan Gould and Eric Mathoho for the knockout clash, while Reneilwe Letsholonyane is serving a suspension.

Baxter remained confident, however, that they could progress to the last four.

“If you took three international players out of any team in Europe, or any team in the world, you’re looking at a considerable weakening,” he said.

“The players have pitched up and stood up to be counted. Whoever comes in can do a job, they’ve all just got to do it at the same time.”

Celtic coach Clinton Larsen was cautious, despite the absence of some of the visiting side’s key players, but he believed they could dump the Soweto giants from the competition in front of their home crowd.

“I don’t think Chiefs will be weakened at all due to injuries. They have enough depth and quality to put out,” Larsen said.

“But we’ve got players ready to step in there and do the job for us.”

Celtic captain Thabo Nthethe was eager for his team to prove their worth against the in-form Amakhosi outfit.

“We are highly motivated to compete in this cup and it is good for the team,” Nthethe said.

“Eliminating Chiefs and winning the cup will be history and we want to be part of that.”

Elsewhere tomorrow, Maritzburg United coach Ernst Middendorp believes home advantage could prove to be the deciding factor when his side take on SuperSport United at Harry Gwala Stadium.

“Playing at home is a big factor, probably the biggest one in fact because at this stage of the competition it really doesn’t matter who you play,” Middendorp said.

His charges would need to be in top form, Middendorp added, to take on a SuperSport outfit who are unbeaten in their last 13 fixtures.

“I think the team that makes the mistake in the final third in front of the goalkeeper will be the one that suffers,” he said.

“It will be a very close game, there’s no doubt about that.”

Meanwhile, SuperSport coach Gavin Hunt was pleased with his side’s build-up, and insisted they would prefer to play away from home.

“We’re a better away team than a home team, we play a different type of game,” Hunt said.

“We have to go down there and give a good account of ourselves.”

Nedbank Cup quarterfinal fixtures:

Saturday: Maritzburg United v SuperSport United (Harry Gwala Stadium), Bloemfontein Celtic v Kaizer Chiefs (Bloemfontein Stadium).

Sunday: Mamelodi Sundowns v Platinum Stars (Loftus Versfeld), United FC v African Warriors (Moruleng Stadium).

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