Chiefs eye solid home win

Stuart Baxter (Gallo)
Stuart Baxter (Gallo)

Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs will head to Durban looking for a similar outcome to their passage into the first round of the Caf Champions League a fortnight ago, when they welcome Mozambican side Liga Muculmana to Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday.

The Soweto giants cruised into the opening round of the continental showpiece courtesy of a dominant 3-0 win over Black Africa, of Namibia, in their preliminary round, first leg tie, at FNB Stadium earlier this month.

An impressive result on home soil set the tone for their return leg, which ended in a 1-1 stalemate, but a comfortable 4-1 aggregate victory in Namibia.

Heading into Saturday's opening round fixture, coach Stuart Baxter says he is looking for more of the same.

"It is the same as every home game in the tournaments that have two legs," Baxter said ahead of the game in Durban.

"You are looking for a solid result from your home leg and not to concede a goal and score as many goals as you can to take with you in defending in the second leg."

Chiefs opted to take the fixture to the coast, where they enjoy massive support, and in doing so, reach out to their country-wide fan-base, which is constantly demanding a piece of the action.

Their decision to travel to Kwa-Zulu Natal, however, was given a steady nudge in the easterly direction due to the fact that global guitar icon Carlos Santana will be performing at FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, a date already booked months in advance.

Nevertheless, Baxter said he had no concerns in taking the fixture to Durban, where Chiefs have always been well represented both on and off the pitch.

"The people are always good for the club in Durban and Moses Mabhida Stadium is very nice and I think the players are quite comfortable to play there," the former Bafana Bafana coach added.

Despite a solid first outing over the two preliminary legs this month, Amakhosi will be in for a far sterner test against Muculmana, who boast several fully-capped Mozambique internationals.

Three members of the visitors' team took part in the African Nations Championship (Chan) in January, where Mozambique failed to progress out of the group stage.

As many as four others make up a growing national pool of players who have represented the country in recent months, making Muculmana a tricky opponent for the current South African league champions.

"We don’t know much about them, but I think our technical team knows sometime about them and they will give us the needed info about [Liga Muculmana]," midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane said of the game.

"We focus on what we have to do on the day, more than what [the] other teams do.

"We’re happy that we’re taking the game to Durban. It’s one of the grounds where we enjoy our football and we enjoy the crowd. Our supporters come in numbers, so we’re happy."

The Glamour Boys are competing on three fronts this season, with the Premiership, Nedbank Cup and Champions League all three still very much within reach for Baxter's troops, who have had to juggle a busy February fixture list.

Chiefs come into the game on the back of a nervy 1-0 win over National First Division side Black Leopards over the weekend, four days after beating Bloemfontein Celtic -- this time in the league -- and opening a nine-point lead at the top of the table.

"This game is part of a bigger picture," Baxter said.

"The schedule is hectic and everybody available for selection is good. We also had a few training sessions this week which has been good for our preparations.

"We are looking okay on the players’ front. George Lebese picked up a knock that we are monitoring."

Baxter is expected to field a full-strength team on Saturday in order to grab a home win, and has benefited from a rotation policy which has ensured that the core of the team are fresh and fighting fit to compete Saturday's crunch first leg.

Baxter was able to rest goalkeeper and skipper Itumeleng Khune against Leopards, while the likes of Bernard Parker, Erick Mathoho and Letsholonyane were all spared 90 minutes and are fully fit to face the Mozambicans.

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