PREVIOUS form won’t have any effect when Kaizer Chiefs host SuperSport United in a Nedbank Cup quarter-final encounter tomorrow at FNB Stadium (kick-off 6pm).
This is the view of Amakhosi coach Steve Komphela, who believes Matsatsantsa a Pitori will approach this match like wounded tigers, eager to make up for the recent defeats they’ve suffered on the domestic front.
SuperSport lost twice to their Tshwane rivals Mamelodi Sundowns in a space of six days. They were first hammered 5-0, before suffering a 1-0 defeat that dented their Absa Premiership title hopes.
Alluding to those two defeats, Komphela said those matches gave him a clear indication of what his side will be up against at the weekend, warning that they could find themselves facing a side desperate for a win in pursuit of defending their Nedbank Cup title.
“If you look at the previous two matches he (Stuart Baxter) played against Sundowns, you would realise that they were totally two different games altogether,” Komphela said. “And that should give you an indication that this is a man who learns from his previous mistakes. With that, it becomes very important not to depend on his past performances because he’s going to come with a different game plan (into this match).
“We have high respect for the quality they have in their squad and his thinking capability as well,” Komphela added. “There are certain people who thrive under challenging circumstances, the more challenges you throw at them, the sharper they become.
“And Stuart is no different from that kind of breed.”
Baxter admitted that talks surrounding him being the next Bafana Bafana coach has had some effect on his players’ psyche and performance. However, he said that wasn’t the only contributing factor to their recent bad performances.
The 63-year-old coach added that the amount of matches they’ve played so far in the Nedbank Cup, CAF Confederation Cup and their league race, had also taken a toll on his squad.
“The uncertainty of the whole situation is not helping us,” Baxter said of the Bafana coaching post.
“The uncertainty of people saying things about me or the situation in the media is not helping anybody. And so, without having to quantify it, it is certainly one of the contributing ingredients sapping the energy (out of the players), apart from the travelling and playing tough games week after week. I cannot quantify it, but it’s certainly not helpful.
“We’ve had this fatigue element going on for a while now,” Baxter added. “We don’t talk about it because people on the outside will start thinking that we are making excuses. I heard Jose Mourinho talking about the fatigue of Man United players because they had to travel for four hours to Russia. In that very week, we flew a day and a half to play our (CAF Confederation Cup) match away (from home), and had to come back and play in a league match again. We don’t talk about it. But this is one factor we’ll have to overcome.”
Baxter added that it was now up to his players to go out there and ensure that they give their best performance and fight for a victory against Chiefs, who have shown nothing but fine form in their last four games.
“It’s a mental thing where players will have to now go out there and give it whatever they’ve got to win the match,” Baxter said. “We also have to work extremely hard on our recuperation and manage injuries that we might get because of fatigue as well. We just have to accept that.
“My responsibility now becomes, I have to make sure that the team is recuperated enough before every single match. In our next game against Chiefs, I’m quite confident that every player wearing a blue shirt on that day, will go out there believing that they can produce a winning result (against Chiefs), fatigue or no fatigue.”