Upset on the cards: Baxter

By Drum Digital
01 August 2013

Reigning league champions Kaizer Chiefs will be weary of their unpredictable foe when they come up against newly-promoted Mpumalanga Black Aces in the first game of 2013/14 Premiership season at Mbombela Stadium on Friday.

Amakhosi coach Stuart Baxter dismissed speculation there would be a huge gulf between the two sides and said the game would make for an interesting encounter at the start of the season.

"If you look at any league in the world where the champions come up against a team that's just been promoted, you're looking at a difficult game," said Baxter on Wednesday.

"The majority of the reasons for that are mental reasons.

"The risk is that the team that has just won the league hasn't hit the floor with the gas yet, while the team that's just come in is more inspired and going for it. So upsets are certainly on the cards."

As title-holders, Baxter said his troops would still need to put in a top effort if they were to repeat their successes of the previous season.

"Chiefs were winners last season, but it doesn't mean we have anything free of charge this season.

"We were under tremendous pressure after not winning the league for eight years -- I don't know if you can get any more pressure than that. If we didn't win anything, the season would have been deemed a failure."

The Naturena side boasted depth in their squad and Baxter said a lot could be determined from the attitude of his players.

"We just have to keep working the way we were working and get the same kind of results. The players are fired up and looking forward the challenge of the new season.

"All we have to do is really make sure that the players are pushing as hard as they can."

With former Wits coach Clive Barker moving to Aces, Baxter said his opponent would be difficult to outwit.

"We're playing against a team where Clive's pulled together a good competitive squad. He's an experienced coach who knows his business." When asked what he could do with his Aces side, Barker jokingly claimed lofty title ambitions.

"My job is to make sure Black Aces win the league by 10 points."

Aces have not had much time to prepare as they were only officially promoted to the PSL on July 24, but Barker said his players would be up for the contest.

"We would have liked to have had more time to prepare. More so as our promotion was only confirmed last week and we're coming from intense and gruesome promotional playoffs," said Barker.

He paid respect to the much-fancied Soweto team and felt it was going to be a tough challenge meeting the defending champions in their first premier league outing.

"I was so pleased with the quality of football over the last season and Chiefs had a lot to do with that.

"It's really going to be war out there on Friday, and we're going to give it our best shot."

Friday fixture: Black Aces v Kaizer Chiefs at Mbombela Stadium.

Saturday fixtures: Moroka Swallows v University of Pretoria at Dobsonville Stadium, Golden Arrows v Ajax Cape Town at King Zwelithini Stadium, SuperSport United v Free State Stars at Lucas Moripe Stadium, Maritzburg United v Polokwane City at Harry Gwala Stadium.

Sunday fixtures: Bloemfontein Celtic v Mamelodi Sundowns at Free State Stadium, Platinum Stars v Bidvest Wits at Royal Bafokeng Stadium.


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