Baxter clarifies striker crisis

By Drum Digital
20 October 2014

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter says he was forced to adopt 'Plan C' for Sunday's league match against Ajax Cape Town.

The Chiefs manager surprised everyone at the Cape Town Stadium by starting with Bafana Bafana winger Simphiwe Tshabalala in a lone striker role during the 1-0 win over Ajax.

It wasn't so much by choice as by necessity, however, after Chiefs saw two of their front men pulling out of the game 24-hours before kick-off.

With Katlego Mphela already missing through fitness issues, Baxter was left with very few options for top-of-the-table clash with the Urban Warriors.

"We get to training (on Saturday), the boys come in, and Kingston Nkhatha has got a massive fever, with all sorts of symptoms. we have to get him away from the rest of the boys and get him off to hospital," said Baxter. "Bernard Parker comes in, takes one step outside and says, 'coach I can't play'. His ankle was so sore he couldn't run. He got a kick early in the week that saw his ankle go over, now he's getting an MRI scan." Instead of starting his only remaining fit striker, Siphelele Mthembu, Baxter turned to the experience of Bafana Bafana international Tshabalala.

"We played with Shabba as a false nine. It was a different way of playing -- with Shabba dropping out and getting runs going in behind ...

"It's different and more difficult. So if we had lost 3-0, I would have had Siphelele knocking on my door and asking what the hell I was doing, but we got the result and he's as pleased as everybody."

Amakhosi were rewarded for their efforts in the second half of the match when centre-back Tefu Mashamaite powered in a header from Tshabalala's in-swinging free kick.

"I have to say, the little man [Tshabalala] was magnificent. People that question his work rate, his fitness or desire or appetite should take a look at that, he's tremendous."

Winning eight out of eight league games this season, and a record 15 games on the trot, Chiefs extended their lead at the top of the table by 10 points.


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