Johannesburg - Mpumalanga Black Aces coach Clive Barker insists his team can compete ahead of their Absa Premiership encounter against league leaders Kaizer Chiefs at the FNB Stadium on Wednesday night.
Kick-off is at 19:30.
Under the tutelage of Barker, Aces have surprised all with their form this season that has seen them lose only one game in their last seven league encounters.
That loss unfortunately came this past weekend in 2-1 defeat to Bidvest Wits. Still, that run of form sees Aces in the top half of the Absa Premiership table in seventh place on 37 points.
Moreover, a win on Wednesday against a wounded Chiefs side could see them move as high as fourth on the table, provided results go their way in other matches on the night.
Barker, though, is aware it will be a tough task against Chiefs, but he insists that his team can compete against the best because of their passing ability.
“This team can compete, and if you look at the last games we played, we won six, drew two and lost two (in the league), but it’s not a recipe that they are going to win every game they play,” said Barker.
“I think my team pass the ball more than any other team in the country at the moment.
“I know it's easy to say that when we are winning, but I think they have been a revelation and I'm very proud.
“We have got quality players at the club and we let them enjoy themselves. What we had to do was to keep them fit and let them go out there and express themselves.
“Hard work, common sense and good players - I think that's the reason we've done so well.”
Aces will face one of their toughest tasks up against Chiefs who will be looking to bounce back from their 1-0 loss to Mamelodi Sundowns on the weekend.
The loss was the Amakhosi’s first at home all season and coach Stuart Baxter admits he was bitterly upset with that fact, but it is something they are looking to put behind them by winning the remainder of their league games this season.
“We didn't turn our dominance into goals (against Sundowns) and managing the game when we were dominating the game is what cost us the game,” said Baxter.
"So we can't complain, its three points, we've lost those three points, Sundowns have them, but if we win all of our games we win the League.
“We have created a very, very strong fortress (at FNB Stadium).
“We want to win every single game we play, that's what we like and if you’re in a big club like Chiefs, you want to win every game you play.”
Chiefs currently sit atop the league table with 52 points, tied with Sundowns, but with a superior goal difference.
With that in mind Chiefs left-back Tsepo Masilela has reiterated his coach’s statement.
“We have to bounce back. No doubt, we have to soldier on. Sundowns is water under the bridge, we have another three points at stake against Black Aces,” added Masilela.
“We have to win all our remaining games. Defending our league trophy is in our hands. We have prepared well for Aces. We know what is at stake.”