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Too early for title talk, says Baxter

Chiefs coach won't rule out midfield role for Ngcobo

Sihle Ndebele Journalist
Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter.
Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter feels it’s still too early to expect Sunday’s game against defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns to give indicators as far as the title race is concerned.

Sundowns host Chiefs at Loftus Versfeld at 5pm.

While he agrees that a win for Sundowns or his Chiefs would work wonders in boosting morale, Baxter doesn’t expect this match to paint a picture of what the title race will be like.

“I think this is very early [to think the Sundowns game will show the sides’ title credentials]. Everybody is trying very, very hard to put down these markers for everybody else,’’ Baxter told the media in a Zoom conference yesterday.

“A victory for one of the two teams in this game is a bit of a marker for everybody else and it’s also a positive sign that your devotement is going the right direction. So it [Sunday’s game] is important for confidence.”

As he’s yet to use him this season, Baxter didn’t rule out the chance of fielding new centre-back Njabulo Ngcobo in the midfield, after his recent impressive shift for Bafana Bafana in a similar position. Ngcobo, 27, came off the bench to play as a holding midfielder when SA beat Ghana 1-0 in a World Cup qualifier at FNB Stadium on Monday.

“Njabulo played as a midfield player. He’s certainly comfortable on the ball to play there and certainly if we were to play in a certain way it would be an absolute possibility to play him in midfield,’’ Baxter said of Ngcobo, the reigning defender of the season.

Baxter also confirmed Lebogang Manyama has fully recovered and is ready to make his first appearance of the campaign against Sundowns, cautioning that he’s not 100% up to speed to start a game, however.

“We've got Lebo back, he is in a position where I can select him. Can he play a full game? No, not at all. But can he be on the bench and be an impact player? Probably,” Baxter revealed.

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