Johannesburg - Stuart Baxter says Kaizer Chiefs will have to overcome the difficult balancing act of eliminating Orlando Pirates’ attacking threat, while at the same time providing a threat on goal of their own in Saturday’s MTN8 final.
Chiefs will come up against arguably the most dominant strike partnership this season in Kermit Erasmus and former Chiefs attacker Lehlohonolo Majoro at Moses Mabhida Stadium, leaving Baxter with the unenviable task of trying to keep the pair from finding the back of the net.
“Pirates have been impressive in certain parts of their game and ‘Major’ has been good when he’s come on and Kermit has been lively,” Baxter said ahead of Saturday’s 20:15 kick-off.
“It’s been something they’ve had payback from. It’s an aspect we have to think about, in the same way I’m sure they’ll be thinking about aspects of our game they want to combat."
He said it was important not to be totally consumed with the thought of stopping the opponents from playing and to ensure Chiefs provide the opposition with the same quandaries.
“We have to think about what we can stop, but also, they have to have problems with us. If they don’t, then we’ve got a problem.”
With nine wins from nine games so far this season, Chiefs go into the game as undoubted favourites, having looked like real title contenders early in the new season.
But, says Baxter, as with all cup finals and with the added pressures of a Soweto Derby, he will be hoping his players will be running like machines and will be able to replicate the kind of form which has seen them run away from the rest of the top flight teams.
“When you go into a final, sometimes you fall back in your development because of the pressure, because of the fatigue and because of the event,” Baxter said.
“But if you’ve got some consistency about you, usually you can repeat what you’ve been doing before. Hopefully the players will play a little bit more on automatic pilot and repeat stuff they’ve done before.”
Baxter has been consistent in his squad selections throughout the opening nine fixtures in both league and MTN8.
Seven identical starting line-ups have been named by the former Bafana Bafana boss, with just two games having a re-jigged starting XI. The changes were partly down to injury, which forced Baxter to call on squad players to fill the boots of Bernard Parker, Siphiwe Tshabalala and most recently, Itumeleng Khune.
“It’s a question of having a plan A, a plan B and maybe even a plan C. Different players lend themselves to those plans,” Baxter said.
“We’ve got a fully fit squad of players. Everybody will be playing this week with an eye to be playing in the final. It’s my job to have a look at Pirates and decide what team I put on the field. It may be a player who has been playing before or it may be a player who just comes in for the one day -- that’s happened before in cup finals.
“I can’t promise changes, but I won’t exclude them.”