Chiefs count their lucky stars

2014-10-05 14:07
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Kaizer Chiefs could have been far more accurate up front, head coach Stuart Baxter admitted, after they fluffed multiple chances in their narrow opening-round Telkom Knockout victory on Saturday night.

The high-flying Soweto giants edged Maritzburg United 1-0 at FNB Stadium to book their place in the cup quarter-finals, but were lackluster for a lengthy period on either side of the break.

"It was a typical cup tie, a bit cut throat. I think we played very well for half an hour, and we got our noses in front, and then for the last 15 minutes of the first half we took our foot off the accelerator," Baxter said.

"I think we played more controlled in the second half, but you're looking for that second goal. We had five or six outstanding chances to score the second goal, and if you don't do that, they're a good team and they're going to put you under pressure.

"It's a cup tie and they're going to throw stuff into your box and it's going to be a little bit backs to the wall, so I'm pleased to go through and win a real cup tie, but I think we can do a lot better."

A diving Bernard Parker scored in the 15th minute when he deflected in a Siphiwe Tshabalala cross off his chest, handing the hosts their 12th straight victory in all competitions this season.

Chiefs shot stopper Reyaad Pieterse and his Maritzburg counterpart, Virgil Vries, were both kept on their toes, producing some fine saves at both ends.

"A mixture of poor finishing and good goalkeeping kept the score at 1-0," Baxter said.

"Reyaad made a couple of very good saves from distance. I didn't see them having the sort of chances we created, but one of those long strikes can go in and then you've got a real fight on your hands."

The Team of Choice had gone down 1-0 to Chiefs in a league encounter at the same venue a week earlier, and while they put up plenty resistance and created a few real attempts, they were unable to turn the tables after Parker put them on the back foot.

"To an extent I felt we dominated. We played with comfort, and if I had to sum it up in a selfish manner, I would say we played and they won," said Maritzburg coach Steve Komphela.

Pieterse played a significant role for the home side, denying two long-range strikes by Ashley Hartog in the first half.

The 22-year-old goalminder was satisfied with his performance, after replacing Brilliant Khuzwayo, who had helped the Soweto outfit lift the MTN8 trophy last month in the absence of injured skipper Itumeleng Khune.

"I just want to keep pushing and working, and trying to get in the team," Pieterse said.

"I support Brilliant and Itu, or whoever gets a chance. It's a brilliant department that I'm working with."


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