Baxter wary of Palacios effect

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It was tough for Baxter Thursday to avoid having to talk about their 6-1 demolition of the Buccaneers at the same venue three weeks ago in an Absa Premiership match, a result which forced Muhsin Ertugral to resign from his post.

But the three games that have followed for Pirates since then - with Palacios in charge - suggests a repeat of such a heavy scoreline is unlikely, the SuperSport coach argued.

“I know Augusto is very experienced,” Baxter explained.

“He will empower players to be a team more and feel they can express themselves. They seem very happy and that sounds pretty dangerous.

“We need to go in confident because we had a long run of games without losing. We need to make sure we stamp our authority and play the way we want to play. It’s difficult to compare how they were put together when Muhsin was there and with Augusto now.

“I think we certainly have to get the 6-1 out of our minds, but our players are human.”

The kind of bromance that’s been evident in the Pirates camp - thanks to their narrow wins against Highlands Park to book a place in the last four of the tournament, then Free State Stars and Chippa United in the league - was articulated by midfielder Mpho Makola, who will be one of the key men for the Buccaneers against SuperSport.

“I don’t want it to sound like we were unhappy when coach Ertugral was there, but everyone just seems to be enjoying themselves again. The previous coach did things his own way and now coach Augusto is also doing things his own way,” said Makola. “The mood in the change room is different. Everyone seems to be ready to play. I think he has brought a family feeling to the team and it has been working so far.

“We are also working hard on scoring goals to be able to win our games by more than a single goal.”

SuperSport have a psychological edge over Pirates, however, in that they have not lost against the Buccaneers since Baxter arrived in January, sharing the spoils in a 2-2 draw in the last league game of the previous season in May, beating them 3-1 in the final of the Nedbank Cup a week later and following that up with the recent 6-1 hammering.

“Any game that’s happened in the past is irrelevant now,” was Baxter’s reaction when the statistics were thrown back at him Thursday.

“We are not favourites to beat Pirates ... We still need a good performance to beat Pirates because of their tradition and culture.

“It (the 6-1) was a very special game for us and it had very clear characteristics in that everything we did, we did well and at the right time.

“We won’t really reflect on that at all too much, but we need to play well instead of in patches like we have done since that game. We are in big trouble if we don’t.”

Follow Mazola Molefe on Twitter@superjourno

The Star

Original source: Baxter wary of Palacios effect

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