Derby won't decide title: Baxter
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)
Johannesburg - While Saturday's Soweto derby will see a face-off between the top two teams on the Premiership log, Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter says the result against Orlando Pirates will not determine who wins the league.
"This game will not be a decider in the title race, but they will still be three very important points," Baxter said on Thursday.
"If we win, will that mean we’ve won the title? No. If we draw or we lose, will that mean we have lost the title? No."
Up against Buccaneers at the FNB Stadium, Chiefs have a three point advantage over the defending champions.
Baxter believed fixtures between Chiefs and Pirates were among the most emotionally charged derbies in world soccer.
He said a Manchester derby, for instance, would affect people in Manchester, but the people in London would not really care about it.
"But here, the derby affects people in Mpumalanga and Nelspruit," Baxter said.
"That is why we’re dealing with more emotion."
Baxter said he appreciated the significance of South Africa’s biggest derby.
"I’m pretty well-aware of the history of the game," he said.
"Derby games deal with emotion and passion and it’s more special because it affects more people. When you go into a derby game, you’re aware of that."
While the match would stir up emotion, key Chiefs midfielder Reneilwe Letsholonyane said the main aim was to win the league.
"We’re working hard as a team to not lose games, and because the big picture is winning the league you can’t afford to lose many games," Letsholonyane said.
"We just have to get more positive results than negative."
If his side could beat Pirates, Letsholonyane said - unlike his coach - it would be a significant step towards claiming the title.
"It is important to get the three points against Pirates because then we will be six points ahead," Letsholonyane said.
"Still it would be too early to tell. This game would be just a stepping-stone for us to winning the league."
Chiefs came back from a recent loss to Platinum Stars away to dispatch Ajax Cape Town 3-0 midweek.
"It’s part of our job, you win some, you lose some," he said.
"You just have to get those games out of your head like the one against Platinum Stars. It’s about how we pick ourselves up and move on."