Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter says the Amakhosi players are naturally “massively disappointed” to have lost the CAF Champions League final to Al Ahly, but hopes the club’s fans will give them “the credit they deserve”.
The Amakhosi, reduced to 10 men for all of the second half, fought bravely in the first half against the Egyptian defending champions before falling to a 3-0 defeat, after conceding three second-half goals.
“The lads did unbelievably well to get to where we are now to this final, so I think once the obvious disappointment of the defeat has settled, I think they will get the credit they deserve. Of course, you’re disappointed, massively disappointed. The players in the dressing room are massively disappointed,” Baxter said after the game.
Baxter said he could not fault the team’s effort and work rate in the final, but rued the lack of quality and loss of concentration at key times in the final.
“I thought with the challenges that we’ve had building up to the final, the players did really well. The opening of the game, we pressed high, but Al Ahly were good with the ball. I thought we did that reasonably well, but we had less and less of our attacks,” Baxter said as he reflected on the game.
The Chiefs coach said Happy Mashiane’s sending off on the stroke of half time left the Amakhosi with a “steep mountain to climb”.
“We couldn’t follow the plan that we’ve had. The red card turned out to be the killer; I had to change the game. In the second half, they put the gas to the floor, the same time we had the handbrake on. It was a good performance by Al Ahly, but we had to deal with a red card,” Baxter added.
The Chiefs coach had a word of encouragement for Mashiane and Amakhosi youngsters like Nkosingiphile Ngcobo and Njabulo Blom, who benefited greatly from a number of positive performances during Chiefs’ CAF campaign.
“He (Mashiane) is disappointed I am sure, but he’ll learn from it,” says Baxter.