In August, the two clubs argued over which bench to occupy minutes before facing off in the MTN8 quarter-final encounter at Loftus Versfeld, an incident that led to Sundowns coach Mosimane being issued with a letter to appear before the Premier Soccer League (PSL) disciplinary committee for “bringing the league into disrepute”. He argued on Thursday, along with Baxter, that this was all water under the bridge. The two coaches were in sync about just how eager they both were to win. The last time they met, the Brazilians hammered SuperSport 3-0 in a highly physical, and entertaining, game.
“I am struggling to keep my players interested after winning the (CAF) Champions League,” admitted Mosimane, who in some ways has not completely gotten over the fact that he was told where to sit in his own backyard. “But for me all these games matter, especially a Tshwane Derby. Nobody cares whether you have just arrived from Egypt today and have a game tomorrow. It is taking a lot of work for us to motivate some of the players, but we need the games. We lost to Cape Town City (in a league match) on Sunday and immediately I wanted us to play and I was delighted we were able to win against Polokwane City on Wednesday night.”
Baxter’s struggle isn’t quite at that level, but it didn’t come as a surprise when he suggested that some of his players may still have their heads in the clouds following the 6-1 thrashing of Orlando Pirates in an Absa Premiership encounter in Nelspruit on Tuesday night. The result was overshadowed by Muhsin Ertugral’s resignation on TV - he has subsequently been replaced by Augusto Palacios on a caretaker basis. But Baxter grabbed the opportunity to relive the moment, pointing out that it would be significant for SuperSport to build on that performance.
“I don’t think you always want to talk about the last game, but sometimes it is important to do that,” he said. “It is going to be quite difficult to keep everyone humble, but in the presence of pats on the back, we need to have a good attitude. I have seen us face Sundowns twice since I have been here and the first time I thought they were from a different planet. The second time I thought we ran them close and we have been measuring ourselves against them as the best club in the continent at the moment. It is a work in progress.”
Mosimane and Baxter even exchanged injury lists while talking about the Tshwane Derby that hardly ever fails to sparkle - unlike the Soweto Derby, as evidenced by the goalless draw last week at FNB Stadium. A former Chiefs coach, Baxter said it would be “unfair” to compare the two, while Mosimane argued that because he has never had the opportunity to be involved in a Soweto Derby he would rather reserve his comments.
“I don’t think the coaches (Steve Komphela at Chiefs and Ertugral in his short stint at Pirates) were being entirely truthful about being happy with a draw. It was more being pleased that they did not lose,” said Baxter.
“We are proud of the fact that the Tshwane Derby is never over-hyped and gives the players the chance to relax and focus on the game. We always encourage them to go out and win and that is what the supporters expect.”
Regardless of where Mosimane sits this time around, you can trust that tomorrow evening’s cup tie will sizzle.
Original source: TKO: Searching for that knockout blow