Both Kaizer Chiefs’ Stuart Baxter and Bloemfontein Celtic’s Clinton Larsen are wary of each other’s team as the two are set to lock horns in an Absa Premiership match at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Saturday, kick-off at 6pm.
Both coaches are making sure to down-play their form and are telling their respective players to prepare for one of the toughest battles of the season.
Coming into the match Chiefs are at the top of the standings with 16 points from their opening seven league fixtures and are one of four teams that are still unbeaten while Celtic lie in seventh with nine points (3 wins, 3 losses 0 draws).
The Phunya Sele Sele, though, are coming into this match full of confidence following their 1-0 win over Orlando Pirates in their last league match, and it is this fact that will make them dangerous for Chiefs according to Baxter.
“They will come with a mentality that they got three points against Orlando Pirates and why not against Chiefs?” says the Amakhosi mentor.
“They will want to have a go at us and be the first team to beat us in the league this season.
“I watched their game against Orlando Pirates and they played with lot of energy. We need to make sure we match them and our game plan is strong.
“We need to carry on where we left off against Chippa United (a 2-0 win) last weekend, but we know it will not be easy.”
For Celtic, they have had an up and down season with their home form proving impenetrable while their away form has let them down tremendously.
Larsen, though, is well aware of this fact and knows his side needs to improve if they are to climb the league table.
“I think we shouldn’t have lost our matches against (Black) Leopards and Chippa. We were supposed to have defeated them. Honestly, we didn’t deserve anything against (Bidvest) Wits because we were completely off-form that evening,” explains the Phunya Sele Sele coach.
“However, we are working hard on improving our away form as we have been terrible on the road. It’s high time we started winning away games, pushing up the table and competing at the top.
“If the players can keep the fighting spirit like they did on Sunday (against Pirates) and be as passionate and driven, I’m sure we’ll get more good results home and away.”
Looking ahead to the Chiefs games, Larsen adds: “These are easy games for me as a coach because the players are so driven to come up against Chiefs and Pirates. As a coach you don’t have to motivate them.
“Against Chiefs, it’s going to be just the same as playing Pirates. We are expecting another competitive game against a team that is firing on all cylinders.
“We are not going to fool ourselves; we can see that Chiefs are really playing on top of their game at the moment. We are going out there to compete.”
Last season the Soweto side took four points off Phunya Sele Sele, drawing 0-0 away and winning 2-0 at home.