Baxter’s selection dilemma

2014-04-20 15:00

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Stuart Baxter is facing a selection dilemma as his team has reached a critical juncture in their busy season.

Today they tackle Ivory Coast giants Asec Mimosas in a 3pm CAF Confederation Cup clash at Dobsonville Stadium in Soweto.

Baxter said he will send a competitive side to today’s match but he will have to do so with his eye on a potential banana skin coming against Bidvest Wits in a league clash on Wednesday.

Amakhosi have a three-pronged battle to focus on – the CAF tournament as well as defending the championship and the Nedbank Cup.

After being knocked out of the CAF Champions League, Chiefs have been relegated to the less-glamorous Confederation Cup.

A victory for Chiefs over Wits on Wednesday will take them back to the top of the Absa Premiership log.

The sides will meet again in the Nedbank Cup in a week’s time. Baxter might be tempted to give fringe players a chance to get game time and rest some of his key personnel today, but this could be suicidal as the Ivorians have already said they mean business.

Chiefs have to travel to Abidjan next weekend for the second leg.

Amakhosi will be two games behind log leaders Mamelodi Sundowns going into their match against Wits, where they might still rue the day they fell out of love with Sthembiso Ngcobo.

Amakhosi had clearly spotted a winner in Ngcobo and snatched him from Free State Stars in 2010.

But soon thereafter they dumped the marksman – lending him to AmaZulu then shipping him off to Bidvest Wits for less than they paid for him.

The romance had ended.

Now the 30-year-old striker stands in the way of Chiefs’ aspirations to retain the Absa Premiership title and the Nedbank Cup.

Ngcobo is threatening to show Chiefs – whom they meet again in the Cup a week later – that they were wrong to dump him. Ngcobo was part of the team that won the two trophies last season.

“Playing against them will motivate me more although I have nothing to prove. I have a lot of respect for the team as they looked after me very well,” said Ngcobo, the Absa Premiership player of quarter 3.

Ngcobo has scored seven goals in the league and says he has set himself a modest target of 10. He paid tribute to his coach Gavin Hunt for giving him the opportunity.

“I think if it wasn’t for Gavin, things wouldn’t be like this. Gavin believed in me and gave me a chance,” he said.

Wits, who are third on the log, are dark horses for the title but Ngcobo downplayed their chances.

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