Johannesburg - No sooner had his charges reported for duty at their first training session of the year, Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter declared his team ready to do hard battle despite holding a 15-point advantage over their nearest rivals in the league.
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"It's good that we finished the first round at the top but we still have a long way to go before we can start talking about winning the league title," Baxter said.
"It's a good feeling but we must not get carried away and we need to make our players aware that the race is far from over."
Amakhosi started the season with a bang, playing 18 premier league matches without a loss, and collecting 46 points along the way.
Defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns, who led the chasing pack, and had a game in hand, snatched the league away from Chiefs last season, when Amakhosi had held a comfortable lead.
"Sundowns showed grit and determination last season and this league cannot be billed as 'a one-horse race' as challenges will always be there," Baxter said.
He warned his players not to be complacent as anything could happen, particularly as his charges would also be involved in the Nedbank Cup and the upcoming CAF Champions League.
Chiefs start their continental sojourn against Township Rollers of Botswana next month and, with skipper Itumeleng Khune back to full fitness, Baxter said he could wait for the season to get underway.
"We have a responsibility to do well in Africa and there is no doubt that the tournament is our priority.
"We need to strike a balance in all three competitions if we are going to prevail. The players are aware of the task at hand so we will have to wait until next month to see whether we can do well on all three fronts, especially in the league".
The Naturena-based outfit celebrated its 45th birthday on Wednesday and Baxter said the philosophy of the club, chaired by founder Kaizer Motaung, held them in good stead.
"It is really special to be part of such an institution. The chairman's dream and hunger still lives on and I think we are ready to give him and the supporters something to celebrate this year.
"It would be fantastic to win the league, do well in Africa and add another trophy on top of the MTN8 we clinched at the beginning of the season. But it is important to put our foot down and not get carried away because not all the teams will be easy to beat."