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Football | Absa Premiership

Stuart Baxter with Pitso Mosimane © Backpagepix

Baxter banking on Bafana players



Kaizer Chiefs boss Stuart Baxter expects his returning Bafana Bafana players to settle back into their club structure when Amakhosi resume the Premiership campaign following the Africa Cup of Nations tournament, which concluded on Sunday.

Baxter's side are back in action on Tuesday when they travel to Pretoria to take on Mamelodi Sundowns in a league clash at Loftus Versfeld.

"It's a difficult one to call, every player is different, but I very much doubt that we will rest everybody and I very much doubt we'll play everybody," Baxter said on Monday.

"Hopefully we'll get everybody into the game and get them to give a good performance.

"Some players come back and take longer, and some players come back and act as though they've never been away."

Baxter believed his leading marksman, Bernard Parker, had a solid Afcon performance, but added that a lack of goals from Parker for the national outfit proved his club side worked well as a unit and put him into dangerous, goal-scoring positions.

"I hope that Bernard would acknowledge the fact that his teammates get him into the game in the areas that he wants," said Baxter, a former Bafana coach.

"In any team, you are more comfortable with your teammates than you are with the national team.

"I think Bernard played quite well, given the fact that he was playing in a slightly different role. If Bernard keeps his confidence and his focus up, he will have an equally successful second half this season."

Chiefs lead the Premiership standings with 35 points after 16 games –one point ahead of second-placed Orlando Pirates, who take on SuperSport United on Wednesday, while Sundowns are a further 17 points behind the log leaders.

Chiefs ran out 2-1 winners against Sundowns when the teams last met in the Premiership in August last year, with Siyabonga Nkosi and Kingston Nkhatha netting for the Glamour Boys, while Itumeleng Khune put the ball into his own net, but nevertheless helped Chiefs edge their rivals.

On that occasion, Dutchman Johan Neeskens was still in charge of Sundowns but was given the boot at the beginning of December, before Pitso Mosimane was hired to get their league campaign back on track.

Mosimane is unbeaten in four games in charge, having recorded two victories – over Black Leopards and Bidvest Wits – and two draws, but undoubtedly faces his stiffest test at Loftus on Tuesday.

"We have to do what we have to do to move up the log," Mosimane said.

"I expect my team to play, I expect my team to do well because the team resembles the coach.

"I have checked those games (when Neeskens was in charge) and that's when I started realising we are in for a big game. We are playing against a good team.

"If you look at their back five, from the goalkeeper, it's the team in Bafana Bafana. There is no-one who hasn't played for Bafana in the back four."

In Tuesday's other fixtures, AmaZulu host Maritzburg United in Durban, while Free State Stars are at home to Chippa United in Phuthaditjhaba, and Black Leopards face Wits in Polokwane.

On Wednesday, Pirates take on SuperSport at Orlando Stadium, Ajax Cape Town clash with Moroka Swallows at Cape Town Stadium, the University of Pretoria take on Golden Arrows at Tuks Stadium, and Platinum Stars welcome Bloemfontein Celtic to Phokeng.

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