Two days away from reclaiming the Absa Premiership title, Amakhosi looked good for a side ready to get the victory that will secure the championship that always appeared theirs to win from the onset.
But they were not about to shout their readiness from the rooftop lest they are tripped up on the potential banana skin that is the unpredictable Polokwane City, who they host tomorrow night.
Coach Stuart Baxter spoke of his willingness to go on until the last match of the season while captain Tefu Mashamaite was at pains to convince the gathered media Chiefs were taking nothing for granted. Yet behind all the “political correctness” spewed by all and sundry lurked an excitement that is sure to burst forth at the FNB Stadium tomorrow.
Chiefs should beat City and capture the title that they spectacularly choked from defending last season when they allowed Mamelodi Sundowns to usurp the title from them despite their having enjoyed what appeared an unassailable lead.
The same threatened to happen this time around but, said Baxter, lessons from last season made Chiefs all the more wiser.
“We learnt a little bit form the last season. This time our recuperation technique was better and mentally the players were much more experienced.
“And that early run helped as did our ability to sustain it because we’ve been at the top for a long time. There’s belief and I believe in this team even though sometimes their belief wanes. Everybody is optimistic.”
Baxter’s optimism stems from the homework he did on tomorrow night’s opponents.
“Last night I did a research on Polokwane. They made a season this year on taking risks. They have taken more risks than people expected them hence their results. So we are going to have to play properly because they will come here and gamble.
“They will throw a lot of numbers at us so we will have to focus 100 percent and not take anything for granted. Our motivation must be high.”
Surely Chiefs will not be lacking for motivation, what with the carrot of lifting the title with three matches to spare dangling in front of them?
While he agrees that first prize will be to wrap the championship tomorrow night, Baxter – who returns to the bench following his recent suspension – is not putting his team under undue pressure by describing the match in must-win terms.
“I am prepared to work until the last ball is played because I am paid for that. (Of course) this is the game we want to win and the preference is to do it (capture the league title) now, but we will go on and play until the last ball.”
Once they win the title, Baxter believes Chiefs will still be motivated to go on performing to their best ability.
“There will be different things at stake afterwards,” he said, agreeing that the lure to beat the winning points record of 65 set by Sundowns last season will drive Amakhosi to want to add more to their tally even after being crowned champions “Those sort of things become motivational.”
But he cautioned about looking too far ahead: “There’s always banana skins, so until we’re numerically impossible to catch we cannot be thinking of those (records).” - Cape Times
Original source: Title within Chiefs’ grasp