After seeing his side draw Orlando Pirates in the semifinals of the MTN8 knockout competition, Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter says his team will once again be relishing the challenge of taking on their most fierce rivals.
“At this stage of the competition, it doesn’t matter who you get, it’s going to be difficult,” Baxter said after the draw in Johannesburg today.
“When it’s Pirates, it’s a little bit extra. There’s a little bit more spice there and I’m sure we’ll give the supporters a field day.
“But for the coaches, it means extra challenges.”
The teams met last month in the Carling Black Label Cup, where Chiefs walked away with a 1-0 victory and, with the MTN8 semifinal decided over two legs, Chiefs and Pirates would do battle three times in the space of a month.
“As a professional, you get your gear on and you go and play where you’re told to play,” Baxter said of the draw.
“Pirates and Chiefs is always a high-profile game and we have to expect everything and anything.
“We have to give everything we’ve got … twice.”
Meanwhile, Pirates coach Roger de Sa said the pressure of playing the defending league champions would always be a factor, but added the same could be said for Baxter and the prospect of taking on the Sea Robbers.
“I know now that there are going to be two games against Chiefs in the MTN8 with a few league games in between,” De Sa said.
“Whether you coach Pirates or Chiefs, there will always be pressure.
“People have opinions but being in my second season with Pirates, I focus on my job and make sure that I remain in the moment.”
De Sa believed his team had performed well so far this season, despite a shock 1-0 defeat to AmaZulu in their first Premiership game of the new campaign.
“The performances have been good. I’m very happy with the way we are playing football,” he said.
“They way we’re knocking the ball around and the way in which we’re creating opportunities is very pleasing.”
Turning his attention to Chiefs, De Sa said the support from the Pirates’ fans would be crucial as he predicted a gruelling encounter against a strong opponent.
“It’s happened this way – it wasn’t planned – and I just hope we don’t lose the spark,” De Sa said.
“If the performances are good, and the support is good, I think everybody will love it (the derby).
“That’s what football is about. We want to play the best, we have to enjoy it and have a lot of fun.”
Unlike previous years, the two-legged semifinal fixtures will be played in the same week.
The first meeting between these two sides takes place on August 21, where Chiefs will be at home. Buccaneers then host the Amakhosi on August 25.
In the other semifinal encounter, Platinum Stars would take on Bidvest Wits on August 20 and the return leg would be played on August 24.
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