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Baxter outlines the reasoning behind some of the Chiefs' selections in their cup loss to TS Galaxy

Stuart Baxter described some of his team's selections that raised questions in Saturday night's 0-1 Nedbank Cup last-32 defeat to TS Galaxy at FNB Stadium as an attempt to get Kaizer Chiefs' "in-form players on the pitch."

The Chiefs were noticeably sluggish in the first half, as Galaxy showed greater tenacity after returning from a two-month Christmas and Africa Cup of Nations vacation, and playing to a sophisticated gameplan devised by coach Sead Ramovic.

Amakhosi shown a clear resolve to improve their transitions coming out of the locker room, but Phathutshedzo Nange's gaffe with an intercepted back-pass awarded Augustine Kwem the opener, leaving Chiefs chasing the game.

Baxter appeared to wish to keep some of the players who had performed well for the club's reduced squads, which won two and lost one of their three games during the club's Covid-19 outbreak in December, and Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya made only his fourth league start at left-back.

Even while the Chiefs' momentum improved in the second half, the additions of particularly rusty Samir Nurkovi, Leonardo Castro, and Lebogang Manyama — all returning from lengthy injuries — almost seemed to work against that improvement.

Baxter remarked that the team's overall performance was uneven and much below that of the Chiefs.

We didn't play with the talent we have at any point. "Our training this week had been excellent, and I was confident that we'd outperform that," he said.

With just over half an hour remaining, the coach was asked about the introductions of Nurkovic and Castro, as well as Manyama, who was introduced with 20 minutes to go.

"We didn't start Samir, 'Lebza,' or Leo for that reason - that they are behind in terms of match fitness," the coach explained.

"We used a somewhat modified formation because we wanted to get our in-form players on the pitch." So 'Mshini' had that function in the pocket from which he could drive in on their defense.

We had 'Siya' [Ngezana] at right-back, who would remain [back] a little longer and allow Ntiya to kick forward.

"However, even the in-form players did not perform to the level that we know they are capable of." So you start with what you know — that Samir can give you 30 or 40 minutes, and that Leo and Lebza can.

"So, if this one doesn't work, let's try a different shape and staff." We had to try to reclaim the game.

"And, despite the fact that we didn't play with the quality I know we have, we still gave up a dreadful goal and squandered a couple more-than-decent chances."

So that might have been a horrible performance, a bad day at work, but we got through because we created a chance and took a set play.

"But once you concede the first goal in a cup game, you run the risk of seeing what we saw tonight — they drag down the clock, injured players, goalkeeper takes his time and breaks up the rhythm."

"Basically, we didn't demonstrate the quality that we have."

If the coach's selections prompted issues in a generally shaky first day back at the match office for the Chiefs, one that did not was 27-year-old Brandon Petersen, who made a strong debut between the posts and pushed himself above Bruce Bvuma in the pecking order.

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Chiefs' Galaxy Leonardo Castro Samir Nurkovi Siphosakhe Ntiya-Ntiya


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