Baxter, Chiefs on collision course

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The two parties are set to meet to determine whether the 61-year-old Briton will continue at the helm of the popular Soweto club, who are also the current Premier Soccer League (PSL) champions.

Baxter still has a year to run on his contract, but is reported to have spoken of a few issues that are troubling him. And, because of his achievements at Chiefs, there is a great demand for his services, from teams in Africa and Europe. He is also said to be a target for the SA Football Association (Safa), who want to bring him on board as a technical director, to oversee all facets of the country’s various national teams.

For Chiefs, the decision is simple. Either they insist Baxter finishes his contract or they allow the coach to leave if he wants to, especially considering the sterling work he has done for the club.

Baxter certainly has nothing more to prove. He is on record as saying that, when offered the job at Chiefs three years ago, he jumped at the opportunity. He felt that, after the shoddy way he was treated during his tenure as Bafana Bafana coach (2004-2005), he wanted to set the record straight.

He wanted to prove, not only to Safa but to the country as a whole, that a mistake was made when he was fired as national coach. He is of the opinion that he should have been given more time then – and Bafana Bafana, who knows, could well have been on a different level by now.

Baxter’s work with Chiefs has been excellent. In his three seasons in charge of Amakhosi, he won two PSL titles and two Cup trophies. He completely overhauled the style of play at the club, adding the much-needed tactical discipline and defensive organisation that has allowed Chiefs to rise above the rest of the PSL.

His advice, guidance and inspiration have been vital in elevating the players at the club. Tefu Mashamaite has gone from just an ordinary defender, hoping to catch a game, to a superb leader and the PSL’s Player of the Season. Mandla Masango’s raw potential matured under Baxter – and he became a Bafana regular. With goalkeeper Itumeleng Khune injured for most of the season, and also holding out for an improved contract, Baxter had no hesitation in placing his trust in the reserve keepers – Brilliant Khuzwayo and Reyaad Pieterse – and both, when played, never let the side down.

Erick Mathoho, George Lebese, Willard Katsande, Siboniso Gaxa, Tsepo Masilela, Reneilwe Letsholonyane, Bernard Parker and Siphiwe Tshabalala… they all seemed to sprout wings under Baxter’s care, allowing Chiefs to regain the glory that had deserted the club before the coach’s arrival.

But, as it is, the ball is probably firmly in Baxter’s court. It’s highly doubtful that Chiefs will play hard ball with a coach that has been good to them, inspired them, and taken the club to a higher level.

So for Baxter, therefore, the question is: What does he still need to prove? What challenge would motivate and inspire him?

The answer probably resides in the past. Read between the lines of Baxter’s interviews and it’s clear the coach is still hurt by his Bafana axing. It’s a job unfinished… It would, therefore, come as no surprise if next up for Baxter is the post as Safa’s technical director. - Cape Times

Original source: Baxter, Chiefs on collision course

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