Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter says his team has taken plenty of lessons from their first league loss of the season against Mamelodi Sundowns.
“The second goal really killed the game. It killed the impetus because it forces my hand to try to make changes that will get us a goal. We went to a diamond and a back four instead of a back three and took a bit of a chance and got ourselves a penalty that was maybe going to be a barnstorming finish if we had scored it,” Baxter reflected on the loss.
A pensive Baxter felt the scoreline was not a true reflection of the game.
“We ended the game losing it 2-0 which is by far not a true reflection of the game, given the quality of our performance. I am pleased with the performance, not the result obviously and certainly not pleased with giving away two poor goals from our point of view,” said Baxter.
Chiefs held their own all evening long against Sundowns and were given a way back into the game when they were awarded a penalty inside the last five minutes, which Lebogang Manyama rifled against the post.
When questioned about Manyama taking the kick on his return from a long injury layoff, Baxter said: “We have four or five penalty takers. When they are on the field and they say they don’t want to take it I have very little control over where the responsibility goes. I think you got to listen to the players and the one who has the confidence to take it should take it.”
While Baxter did ponder over the decision to hand Manyama the responsibility, the Chiefs coach had no problems with him taking the spot kick.
When asked of Austin Dube’s performance, Baxter said: “I think he did well in patches. Austin is going to be a good player. At times he showed that he is going to be a decent player for us. It was a tough one for him. He will have to reflect on it and improve, same as everybody else. I think Austin is a good lad, a good professional and he will improve.”
The Chiefs coach said the entire Chiefs defence struggled at times with their decision making against a high quality Sundowns team.
Baxter explained his thinking during the game and said his substitutions were based on the fact that Chiefs were chasing the game and had to find a way back into the game.
“Before every game the technical team and I go through what we will do if we go a goal down, what if we chase the game, what if we have a man sent off, what if we want to lock out the game,” confirms Baxter.
“So, before you go and sit out in the heat of the battle then you have already given yourself a couple of ideas. After the game it gives you an idea if those tactical adjustments can be used in the future. Did it give you what you wanted, or did you just end up messing the balance of the team around?”
A major positive, Baxter feels, is the short passing game and link up play between Khama Billiat and Keagan Dolly, which opened the doors for Samir Nurković, which he felt was impressive and he hopes for more of the same from the trio going forward.
“Samir is a good compliment to Khama and Keagan. I am disappointed that one of those front three did not score. We opened them up but could not finish,” Baxter concluded.