Heat will be a challenge – Baxter
Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter believes the conditions will provide a tough assignment for the log leaders when they take on high-flying Platinum Stars in Phokeng, outside Rustenburg, tomorrow.
With Chiefs having played the majority of their Premiership matches at night this season, Baxter said he was expecting a sweltering afternoon encounter.
“It will be a real challenge. It’s going to be warm in the afternoon,” Baxter said.
Amakhosi are the only unbeaten side in the league campaign and have been lauded for their pace and high tempo, but Baxter believed their next encounter could prove tricky in their efforts to maintain such high intensity.
“We do try and play at a high tempo, so there is a possibility that I will rotate the squad, and there is a possibility that a few of the players that have fresh legs may get a run,” he said.
“There is also a possibility that we may tactically change slightly, but whatever the challenges we have, I’m sure my players are now looking at them positively, thinking challenges are not problems, so we will have a go at (Stars).”
Chiefs head into the fixture on the back of a thrilling 3-2 midweek victory over Soweto rivals Moroka Swallows, while Stars, lying fourth in the standings, went down in a surprise 2-1 defeat to Chippa United in Cape Town.
Five rounds of matches remain until the Premiership takes a break for the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in January and Baxter believed the team would have to take each game as it comes.
“With all the talk that has been around the team the last week or so, it has been more on what is happening now, and we have spoken very much on one game at a time,” he said.
“With the games we have up until Afcon, I think we have to focus on those games.
“We will always have challenges with injuries, but I think I have to make sure that they focus on those (league) games.”
With Chiefs having claimed 27 of a possible 33 points thus far, Baxter believed it would be difficult for his side’s international players to regain momentum when the league resumes after the continental tournament.
“After the Afcon it will be a massive challenge because you will get the players back late,” said the former Bafana Bafana coach.
“You get the players back tired, the players are wearing their national caps, not their club caps, so it’s challenging in many ways.
“But I don’t think I need to motivate them. The motivation part should come from the fact that they enjoy playing football and they enjoy playing for their club. I think in that aspect it won’t be a challenge to get them going.”
In other fixtures, the University of Pretoria host Black Leopard at Tuks Stadium, Orlando Pirates are at home to Bidvest Wits in Soweto, AmaZulu entertain Free State Stars in Durban, and Moroka Swallows take on Maritzburg United in Dobsonville.
On Sunday, Bloemfontein Celtic face log-bottom Mamelodi Sundowns, while SuperSport United are at home to Golden Arrows in Atteridgeville.
The weekend’s action was due to get under way this evening, with a derby clash between Ajax Cape Town and Chippa United at Cape Town Stadium.