IT HAS been 16 months since Kaizer Chiefs played in a cup final, so you can understand the buzz and – to an extent – the anxiety at their training ground in Naturena.
Amakhosi take on Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates in a Soweto derby at Durbana��s Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday (8.15pm) for not just bragging rights, but the MTN8 title that eluded both sides last season.
The Buccaneers at least overcame their nearly men status in cup finals by eventually winning the Nedbank Cup in May following three failed finals attempts, while Amakhosi closed shop with nothing to show for their rigorous campaign.
Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter, who clinched a Premier League and cup double in his first year with the club two seasons ago, but turned from hero to zero with no silverware last season, spoke boldly of a a�?high-energya�? approach against their arch-rivals in three daysa�� time.
a�?Without wanting to bring any more pressure to bear on the players, I think ita��s probably true that psychologically ita��s more important for us to win this cup after finishing with nothing last season,a�? Baxter said.
a�?I think when you choose to play at a club like Chiefs you know the expectation – and that is to win something. If you play for Manchester United and you dona��t win something, you take the stick thata��s going to come. The same when you are Arsene Wenger at Arsenal and dona��t win a trophy for eight years. You take it for granted.
a�?We play the way we play and the club is run the way it is run in the hope that we win trophies. This is important because it is a direct opportunity to win something.a�?
Chiefs are on a winning streak of nine league and cup matches so far, and with the exception of their lacklustre showing in their 2-1 win over University of Pretoria at the weekend, have justified their place in the MTN8 final.
They have conceded two goals but have had to mostly rely on midfielders to find the back of the net.
a�?We passed the test of getting through the weekend games and we wona��t do things too different even though we know we now have Siphiwe Tshabalala and Bernard Parker in the mix,a�? Baxter said.
a�?I expect this derby to be a bit different, and maybe one of the elements is that it will be played on a neutral ground.a�? – Sowetan