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Baxter: Sundowns held their nerve better than we did

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter admits that Mamelodi Sundowns “held their nerve better” in the penalty shoot-out at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on Sunday afternoon.

The Glamour Boys journey in the MTN8 came to an end after suffering a 2-1 defeat on penalties in the quarter-finals.

However, Baxter praised his side’s character to come from two goals down to force the game into extra-time and then penalties.

"I thought at the beginning of the game we were well off it," Baxter told SuperSport after the game.

"Sundowns took command with possession. The timing of our press was wrong. Positional play at the back was wrong. And our possession when we won the ball was hurried and nervous. Going a goal down doesn't help but I felt that gradually we started to play a little bit better. We found a little bit of rhythm and then came the second goal.

"After that I think we had a period of 15 minutes where we played well and we scored a goal in that time.

"And going into half-time, I thought if we could change a few things we can make a fist of it and the boys did and I think they played much better second-half. The balance of the team was better. We defended a little bit stronger and on the back of that even our attacking play."

"I was pleased with that but then extra-time, there's fatigue at this time of the year so neither team plays their best.

"We were looking for a transition and set plays and they were looking for longer possession. Going to penalties, it is what it is. I think Sundowns held their nerve better than we did and I wish them all the best in the semis.

"It's a strong group in as much as we were 2-0 down to the champions in a game where it's very easy to cave in, very easy for players to lose whatever belief they had. But we got back and we got back to 2-2 and it could have gone either way and as I say fatigue in extra-time means that nobody plays really well. And penalties if the goalkeeper has a performance like he did. It was like Brandon had for us last week.

"It was our first game against opposition in the sharpest of circumstances. I've learnt a lot from the game. I hope the players have learnt a lot. We've got to get better and we will get better. If the players can give me 20 percent better than that, then I think we will be reckoned with."