By his own admission, SuperSport United coach Stuart Baxter’s life has been an “absolute nightmare,” following his side’s 5-0 hammering at the hands of rejuvenated Absa Premiership champions Mamelodi Sundowns about a week ago.
United host the Brazilians in the reverse fixture at the Lucas Moripe Stadium this evening, and although Matsatsantsa picked up a confidence-boosting 5-0 win over Barrack Young Controllers on Sunday, to secure a place in the Caf Confederation Cup group stages, Baxter believes their title chase may be over.
“I don’t think a team that has been spanked 5-0 can talk about title aspirations,” said Baxter.
“I think we should stop talking about that and start talking about the next game which is Sundowns. Let’s try to win that and see if the other contenders lose their games, then we might get back into the frame. I think at this moment we should not mention title aspirations, we should talk about how we get back on the rails.”
The former Kaizer Chiefs mentor, who is heavily linked to the Bafana job, says he is expecting a good response from his players.
“Losing is one thing and being outclassed is another,” Baxter lamented.
“It is question mark to my mind and to the minds of the players. I have to make sure I have got some answers for them, and they have to make sure they have answers on the field.
“I undoubtedly want to see a response from the players. If it is a grudge game, then it is a very important game, one that I would like to see the players selling themselves very dearly rather than selling themselves cheaply like they did in the first game.”
Sundowns, by contrast, will be looking for more of the same after revitalising their title challenge against SuperSport, and consolidating that with a 1-0 league win at Free State Stars on Sunday.
Masandawana still have nine games left, two more than league leaders Cape Town City, and three more than second-placed Kaizer Chiefs, with just four points separating them from the top two.
Bidvest Wits, in third, have played the same amount of games as Sundowns and are three points ahead of them, but look to have a more difficult run-in than the reigning champions.
Mosimane is also starting to get more and more of his key players back, with Ugandan goalkeeper Dennis Onyango returning to the side this week with successive clean sheets against SuperSport and Stars.
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