Baxter awake to the possibilities at SuperSport

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Baxter had a hugely successful three-year spell at Chiefs between 2012 and 2015, which included two PSL titles. He was respected for the manner in which he bravely changed the Soweto club’s style, bringing more discipline and shape to the team.

His work in the PSL is legendary, which is why SuperSport, after booting Gordon Igesund last week, had no hesitation in installing Baxter as their new head coach.

With the 62-year-old British coach awaiting his work permit, he was in the stands for last week’s 1-0 win over Free State Stars, but he took his place on the bench on Wednesday. It’s never easy going to Bloemfontein and expecting to get something positive against Celtic, but Baxter’s SuperSport emerged with a brave point, which was good enough for him.

“I think we can be happy with the point if you take the circumstances into consideration,” he said. “We were away from home and I haven’t done a lot of work with the squad, but I thought we were organised and the players did very well.

“I thought we had a few opportunities to even sneak a result against Celtic, but a draw was probably a fair result.”

With Ajax looming on Sunday, Baxter will have a few more days to continue working on inculcating his philosophy into the SuperSport squad.

“I’ll keep focusing on structure, shape and organisation,” he said. “Soon, I’m hoping, it will come naturally and players will be able to fully express themselves. The work in attack also needs improvement. I thought the strikers had a good outing against Celtic, but we will work a lot with the players in and around the penalty area.”

At Ajax, though, their sorry away form and the general inconsistency of the team continue unabated. The Urban Warriors are now mired in 13th position on the 16-team PSL, and it is becoming a major concern for coach Roger de Sa.

In 16 PSL fixtures to date, Ajax have lost seven games. For a side that played so well earlier in the campaign, including winning the MTN8, the slide has been disastrous.

There’s a schizophrenia characterising the Cape side at the moment, and De Sa must be pulling his hair out trying to get to the root of the problem.

In Wednesday’s 2-1 defeat to Orlando Pirates in Soweto, things were no different. For 60 minutes, it looked as if Ajax were suffering from some acute form of sleepwalking. And then, suddenly, in the final 30 minutes it was as if a switch had been turned on. The Urban Warriors awoke from their soporific stroll and appeared to realise that a football match was taking place.

Thanks to their late industry, they could possibly have sneaked a point, but if only they could play as they did in the final half-hour more consistently.

The big blow for Ajax ahead of the SuperSport clash is the loss of striker Nathan Paulse. The veteran, who has had a lot of poor fortune with injuries over the last two years, was the victim of another freak incident against Pirates.

After being tackled by Buccaneers defender Rooi Mahamutsa, Paulse fell awkwardly and fractured his forearm. He was replaced by Prince Nxumalo, who later scored the goal that brought Ajax back into the match.

Paulse will undergo surgery on Friday and De Sa lamented the big forward’s bad luck.

“Paulse’s injury affected us early on against Pirates,” said the Ajax coach. “I think if we had him at the end of the game, when we were on top, it could have been a different story. I think if we had both him and Prince Nxumalo up there it would have been, maybe, a different story, but who knows.

“That’s the way it goes. But there are lots of games coming, and now we’ve got to be ready for SuperSport.”

Cape Times

Original source: Baxter awake to the possibilities at SuperSport

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