Absa Premiership

We struggled to focus - Baxter

2015-03-23 09:46
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)

Cape Town -Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter felt a lack of energy and cohesion resulted in his side's Nedbank Cup exit at the hands of Black Leopards on Saturday.

Read: Igesund proud of SSU tactics

Amakhosi never really hit their straps in the last-16 encounter at the FNB Stadium and fell behind after 20 minutes when Morgan Shivambu opened the scoring for Lidoda Duvha.

The opener was contentious given the fact that Shivambu appeared to be offside when he netted, and an irate Baxter was subsequently sent to the stands by the referee following his remonstrations at the decision to award the goal.

Chiefs finally hit back with 12 minutes remaining when Willard Katsande headed home a corner from Siphiwe Tshabalala, but the visitors had the final say as Roggert Nyundu struck at the death to spring the first major upset of the competition.

Baxter concedes that his players failed to match the energetic performance of their lower-league opposition, although he defended his team selection, which saw David Zulu, Simphiwe Mtsweni, Reyaad Pieterse and Ovidy Karuru all handed starts.

"I thought that we would probably win this match and I selected a team that could do this," he said after the shock defeat.

"However they played at 110 percent and we at 75. If that happens, it's difficult to win. Cup tournaments are like this.

"We struggled to focus, keep shape and so on. A Cup game is a great leveller. This wasn't about tactics, but about a team that really stuck together and won."

Baxter added: "The team was virtually put upon us. We had suspensions, injuries and there were others I didn't want to risk, like Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker - I was afraid that they we would break down if they had to play 90 minutes.

"However, I still felt that we put out a competitive squad. I hoped that they would be hungry."

Commenting on the opening goal and his sending-off, Baxter said: "Their goal was light-years offside. And then the penalty… I told the referee, 'didn't you see that it was a penalty?', while putting my hands in front of my eyes indicating that he maybe needed binoculars. That's when he sent me off.

"Eventually, we did equalise. But we lacked the desire to put it to bed. I am embarrassed about the result and I am ashamed about my own performance for getting sent off.

"I should take responsibility. However, I am not sure what responsibility there will be for the officials. This result is difficult to swallow. In the end, Leopards wanted it most."


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