Baxter shrugs off Pirates loss
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - While it would have come as a crushing blow to go down 1-0 to Orlando Pirates in their MTN8 Cup first leg semi-final at FNB Stadium on Saturday, Kaizer Chiefs will have plenty of time to get things right for their return match on September 24, according to coach Stuart Baxter.
Chiefs, by Baxter's own admission, were way below par in the first half when they conceded the only goal of the encounter, and looked like going further behind.
"Certainly if you're looking at the performance today and where I want us to be, that may not be a train smash as we've got a bit of time," said Baxter after the game.
"It's going to be a difficult period for us to play all the games and still do the work we want to do."
The reigning Premiership champions, however, have five league matches before the second-leg match at Orlando Stadium.
"We may be able to rotate the squad and get a few other players in. So by the time we get to the next leg, we might have a few more options."
Pirates came into the match buoyed by strong results in their recent CAF Champions League matches, and Chiefs knew they would have their hands full.
"Our first 30 minutes were a total disaster. We spoke about Pirates being confident and not allowing them to time to settle," Baxter said.
"Our reaction to realising we were not focused was that we panicked.
"We had no complaints going 1-0 down into half time - we were just happy it wasn't more."
In the second half, Chiefs had plenty of chances to draw level but could find the back of the net.
"We weren't getting ourselves back into the game with higher quality play, but just higher intensity.
"Over 90 minutes, we can't really grumble because our first half was so poor. We'll just have to pick up our performance for the second leg and lick our wounds."
Though he expected his players to up their performance radically, Baxter said his men would still take the defeat badly.
"You've just got to get back on the horse and go again. The players will be gutted and they have every reason to be on their first half performance."
Though the tangible problem was Chiefs' inability to score, Baxter suggested the root cause could have been mental.
He said the team did not show and composure were forcing the game. The team panicked when Pirates had the upper hand and even clearances from the defence left the players scrambling.
"Then when we were getting into goal scoring opportunities, we were snatching and that was partly because of the magnitude of the occasion."
Pirates coach Roger de Sa made light of the significant win for his side. Pirates also missed chances which he hoped would not come back to haunt them, he said.
"Once we scored, we took our foot off the pedal off a bit," De Sa said.
"In the second half, we stopped playing because they didn't allow us to play.
"We battled a bit with that, but I didn't want to be too defensive because I thought a second goal would kill the tie off."