HEAD COACH Stuart Baxter gave SuperSport United a wake-up call ahead of Saturday’s Telkom Knockout final against Cape Town City at Polokwane’s Peter Mokaba Stadium.
Baxter made no bones about the fact that he was unhappy with his team’s performance in their 0-0 Absa Premiership draw with Bloemfontein Celtic at the Dr Petrus Molemela Stadium on Sunday.
Baxter said he told his players a few home truths after the game: “I told the players in the dressing-room how I felt. I did not hold back on telling them the truth. Some may have liked and accepted it, others not.
“But they have to realise I am a professional and I expect them to keep to my standards. We let those high standards drop.”
Baxter stressed he would be working on getting the players’ minds and tactics in top shape for their TKO showdown against the current Premiership leaders.
He said he hoped the final was not on the players’ minds when they were playing Celtic: “Maybe it was, I don’t know, but I sincerely hope it was not. We should have performed better. If the cup final was on some players’ minds, that’s something I’ll straighten out this week at training by getting their minds focused.”
Baxter said CT City, under former Orlando Pirates head coach Eric Tinkler, were favourites: “I’m not playing mind games here. City are not on top of the league for nothing, after beating Wits 3-2 at Milpark at the weekend.”
Matsatsantsa may have gone 14 league and cup matches unbeaten but that would count for nothing in a cup final, said the United mentor.
“History means nothing. It’s what happens on the day that counts. It’s nice to have gone so long unbeaten but City are the in-form team at the moment and must start with a slight edge.”
Baxter still has two major injury worries. Both his strikers, Bradley Grobler and Jeremy Brockie, face late fitness tests. They were injured in the 1-0 semifinal win over Orlando Pirates last month and missed the Celtic clash.
Said Baxter: “Brockie started light training and of the two has a better chance of making the squad.
“But both are still doubtful starters. I only had 17 fit players in Bloemfontein at the weekend.”