SUPERSPORT United head coach Stuart Baxter is expecting a backlash when his side play Orlando Pirates in the semifinal of the Telkom Knockout later this month.
Baxter, whose side destroyed Bucs 6-1 in an Absa Premiership match at the Mbombela Stadium last week, a result which saw Pirates coach Muhsin Ertugral sensationally quit on live television, said it was a tough draw.
He hinted that as this would be their home game they may take the semifinal back to Mbombela – the scene of the club’s biggest win in the PSL.
The club’s record win is a 9-0 drubbing of Seychelles outfit Red Star FC in the Caf Confederation Cup in March 2005. But giving a side of Pirates’ calibre six of the best will go down as their most memorable win.
Said Baxter: “We have the choice of using Lucas Moripe Stadium or our alternate, which is Mbombela Stadium. But we’ll see nearer the time which venue we will use.”
Baxter stressed that the 6-1 win over Pirates was now history and probably would not be repeated any time soon. He explained: “That was a one-off result. This is a whole new ball game. It is a cup semifinal, Pirates are wounded, they will want to make amends and have a new coach.”
But Matsatsantsa a Pitori seem to have a hoodoo over Pirates, having also beaten them 3-2 in the recent Nedbank Cup final. Baxter said he would be working on his players’ mentality. He knows that after beating neighbours and African champions Mamelodi Sundowns in the last round, his charges are one game away from their second cup final this year.
But he is wary of Pirates under interim coach Augusto Palacios. The Peruvian, who is the club’s head of development, got off to a fine start with a 2-1 Knockout quarterfinal win over Highlands Park at the weekend.
Said Baxter: “Palacios has been at Pirates for ever. He knows the players and the culture of the club. He has come in to steady the ship and stamp his own identity on the team.
“The key for us is preparation. The last thing we can afford to do is sit on our laurels.
“So we’re preparing for another difficult cup-tie.”