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Chiefs vs Swallows: 'Whose head is on the chopping block?'

FILE - Kaizer Chiefs head coach Stuart Baxter. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

FILE - Kaizer Chiefs head coach Stuart Baxter. Photo: Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix

Published Nov 27, 2021

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Cape Town – There is a heightened expectancy around Sunday afternoon’s high-voltage Soweto Derby between Swallows FC and Kaizer Chiefs because this season's spectacular failures have raised the ire of fans in both camps.

Admittedly, as far as Soweto Derbies go, the Swallows vs Chiefs showdown is the poorer cousin of the real McCoy, the Chiefs – Orlando Pirates. However, there are extraneous factors at play at the Dobsonville Stadium (start 3.30pm). There is every chance that the outcome of the match could decide who the next managerial casualty of the season will be.

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On the one hand, there is Chiefs mentor Stuart Baxter. He has come under increasing attack from past players and fans, who have called for his head. Baxter too might be at the end of his tether, judging by his comments after the midweek stalemate against AmaZulu.

He was moved to reflect on despondency oozing from Benni McCarthy's post-match remarks.

“If I was Benni I would have been going mental that they did not put us to the sword by three or four goals because I thought we were that bad," said Baxter.

"If you go onto a football field and toss all the work that you have done in the week; if you toss it out the window and think you can just improvise or make a decision based on what is.

"This probably what’ has been holding South African football back for many, many years.

“When we can integrate the structure of South African football and Kaizer Chiefs with the creativity, you will get very, very good football.

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"If you think you are just going to make decisions off the top of your head and take as many touches as you want every time you get the ball, no one can read anything, and therefore your play will be poor.”

It was a scathing commentary by Baxter on the state of football Chiefs served up under his watch.

And then there is Swallows gaffer Brendon Truter, who two weeks into his 'second coming' after he was given 'special leave' to see if the club could arrest the fall from grace {in his absence). Swallows are now marooned in the relegation zone in the second-last position.

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Truter's pre-match comment was exasperating almost to the point of taunting, and one that fans will find hard to swallow.

"The plan was to challenge for the title this season," said Truter. "We planned to challenge for honours and win a trophy in the second season (after being promoted). That has always been my objective.”

"Football is easy to fix in terms of preparations, but there are underlying issues, and we need to get to that.

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"We need to see what is happening. Maybe it is the lifestyle or tactical discipline. Maybe it is mentality and character, and the will to win and things like that."

While the two managers deal with the mental anguish from the dugouts, there will be some interesting duels on the field of play.

The masterful Keagan Dolly will be Swallows' No 1 target. He must be kept on a tight rein, or else he will wreak havoc. Swallows will charge former Chiefs defender Yagan Sasman with the task of closing Dolly down. Sasman is a tireless worker and will run his feet off to contain the Dolly threat.

Cole Alexander is suspended and will be missed in Chiefs' midfield. Baxter is likely to call up Kenyan international Teddy Akumu to do defensive midfield duty in his absence. He will deal with the Swallows playmaker Musa Nyatama, who if given too much latitude can bring his front-runners into play, and if that happens Chiefs, will be in trouble. Akumu will be keeping an eye on him.

Chiefs will play a high-pressing, direct football if they are allowed to impose themselves on the game.

With so much at stake, the derby fare could be irritable and fractious. The signature line of the TV Masterchef programme springs to mind: 'Whose head is on the chopping block?'

@Herman_Gibbs

IOL Sport

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