Surprise as Baxter claims no need to overhaul Chiefs

Returning coach aims to build on foundations

10 June 2021 - 07:00
By Sihle Ndebele
Kaizer Motaung with new Kaizer Chiefs head coach Stuart Baxter.
Image: Kaizer Chiefs Studio Kaizer Motaung with new Kaizer Chiefs head coach Stuart Baxter.

In the wake of returning as Kaizer Chiefs coach yesterday, Stuart Baxter surprisingly gave the sense that he has no intention of bringing about drastic changes to the club that has been a shadow of itself in recent seasons.

It is Baxter's second stint at Chiefs, having replaced Gavin Hunt, who was fired almost two weeks ago. He penned a two-year contract with an option to renew for a further two years.

In his maiden spell, between July 2012 and July 2015, Baxter guided the club to four trophies (two league titles, the MTN8 and the Nedbank Cup). He is the last coach to win a trophy, the 2014/15 league title, at Chiefs.

His four successors, Steve Komphela, Giovanni Solinas, Ernst Middendorp and Hunt, endured torrid stints that all ended in dismissal.

The 67-year-old Baxter has unexpectedly revealed he won’t totally demolish the foundation laid by the coaches who arrived after his exit in 2015.

“I think it’s important that people understand that the coaches that have been here before me, they’re not bad coaches, they’re good coaches. Some of them are top coaches in this country and so this isn’t about me coming and dismantling everything that has been done,” Baxter said yesterday.

“This is about me trying to find a better balance… maybe rebuilding the culture around the team. I think Kaizer Chiefs have moved forward a lot since I was here the last time. This time there’ll be a lot of expectations. I’ll have to manage that.”

The former Bafana Bafana mentor’s first task is the two-legged CAF Champions League semifinal against Moroccan giants Wydad Casablanca. The firs leg is in Morocco on June 19, with the return leg at FNB Stadium the following Saturday. Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard are set to remain as assistant coaches.

“There’s a challenge for me there [against Wydad]. I’ve got to try and identify a couple of things, maybe tactically, for these games. Wydad is a strong opponent but we’ve shown in the home game [that they won 1-0 in the group stages] that we can match them. We have to improve on our first leg.

“These two games, and hopefully the final, I am hoping they would serve as good preparations moving in and [as] a springboard into the season.”