Pirates and Chiefs don’t do friendly matches – Baxter

baxter e1355911203120 Pirates and Chiefs don’t do friendly matches – Baxter

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter is preparing to take a back seat this week ahead of Saturday’s highly-anticipated Carling Black Label Cup against arch-rivals Orlando Pirates at FNB Stadium.

Chiefs are fresh off defending their pre-season Gauteng Cup title at the weekend, having thrashed Bloemfontein Celtic 4-1 in the final in Pretoria.

However, this week’s sold-out cup match has required little influence from Baxter – nor his opposite number Roger de Sa – since the concept requires the fans to pick the starting line-ups and make the call for the first substitution of the match.

“It’s the Soweto Derby, and I guess Pirates and Chiefs don’t do friendly matches now, do they?” Baxter said.

“It’s great for supporters since they have a massive influence in it and I take a back seat.”

The millions of Amakhosi fans who would have cast their votes – with the starting line-ups set to be announced on Thursday – will be glad to know that they are ‘inheriting’ a team in good form.

The Premiership and Nedbank Cup winners from last season demolished Celtic on Sunday, with Willard Katsande, Siphiwe Tshabalala, Knowledge Musona and Kaizer Motaung Junior all finding the back of the net.

Phunya Sele Sele found a second-half consolation goal courtesy of a Thabo Nthethe header, which was the lacklustre Free State outfit’s only meaningful moment of the fixture.

Baxter gave a return start to Musona and Morgan Gould, back from injury, in defence, and while he was pleased with the performance, he saw room for improvement ahead of the Soweto derby clash.

They will play a Pirates outfit which should look sharper than the side that settled for a goalless stalemate against Congolese side AC Leopards in their Caf Champions League last-eight encounter in Orlando on Saturday.

“I’m pleased with the quality of play and happy with the players’ attitude. Hopefully we’ll continue playing decent football,” Baxter said.

“We still have a lot of work to do, and I feel that we can also improve in defence.”

Meanwhile, Celtic coach Clinton Larsen admitted his charges were still a work in progress ahead of the 2013/14 campaign, starting next month.

Larsen said he was trying out some combinations in his squad and was looking to bolster the side, particularly up front after losing Lennox Bacela to Orlando Pirates in the off-season.

“The objective is to keep improving,” Larsen said.

“We are trying to improve as a team from last season and I’m also on the lookout for one striker.”

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