Baxter: A cup final lives its own life
Posted: 24 June 2017 Time: 13:34
SuperSport United coach Stuart Baxter still believes Orlando Pirates "can beat anyone in the league" ahead of their Nedbank Cup final showdown this evening.
SuperSport are looking to capsize the Pirates ship following a dismal league campaign, in which they ended 11th on the log standings – their worst ever finish in the post-1996 PSL era.
The two sides meet in a repeat of the 2016 Nedbank Cup final, however, this time at a sold-out Moses Mabhida Stadium, at which kick-off is set for 20h15.
Baxter, who is set to end his reign at Matsatsantsa tonight, refuses to read anything into the Buccaneers' troubles and admits that they are still a side capable of doing damage to any opponent, if they feel up to the task on the day.
"A cup final lives its own life and, the fact that Pirates have not had the greatest season, you still know that they are capable of beating anybody in the league," says Baxter.
"The history of the club weighs heavy with their supporters and the obligation they feel. They can catch fire on the day and they can hurt you.
"We've got to really think about the here and now, and we've got to think about our performance and being sharp – doing the things we know we do well and making sure we minimize what Pirates do."
The British tactician, who will permanently turn his focus to Bafana Bafana once the 2016/17 domestic season officially ends tonight, deems it imperative his chargers get off to a good start if they are to avoid total dominance by Pirates.
"I think if we get off to a good start we can go on and win the game, but if we don't and we allow Pirates to get the upper hand then you can find a scenario where they can have their foot on your throat for 90 minutes, and you've really got to slog," he concedes.
Baxter believes their record of six games unbeaten against Pirates will count for little, if not only as a reminder to the players that they can overcome the Soweto giants, provided they execute the game-plan correctly.
"I don't think the games that have been played before are going to affect this one, maybe it will give the [SuperSport] players the confidence to know that if we do the right things and if we play well that we have a good chance of winning," defends the former Kaizer Chiefs mentor.
"But I think you're always best to go into a game motivationally believing that you can win but knowing that you can also lose, then you don't under or over-estimate the opponent."