League-winning Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter believes his achievement will change perceptions that South Africans had about him.
Baxter, who was fired as Bafana Bafana coach in 2005, says he feels relieved that he has finally made a mark in South African football. Baxter steered Chiefs to their first league title in eight years and said winning the championship was very satisfying.
“When I accepted the job, I needed to do a lot of things. I wanted to change the perception that I had failed as the national team coach. I was confident of doing that and it feels nice,” said Baxter after Chiefs lifted the title on Saturday.
The Englishman still believes his tenure as Bafana coach was a successful one although some people think otherwise.
“I won’t say I have redeemed myself because if I say that it would suggest I had done something wrong. I don’t think I was not successful. The group we were in, with Ghana, was the most difficult one and people did not realise that until I had gone.”
He said he knew there would be obstacles when he accepted the Chiefs job.
“Some people even thought I was on a suicide mission and it was not a light decision. But after getting what the club wanted I knew I’d be up to the challenge.”
He said the first few training session convinced him he had made the right decision after the players showed hunger and the determination to win.
“The players had been depressed before but they were hungry and blooming. I think we played well for a long period of the season until the last four matches with some sporadic performances. We just did not have the energy and somehow we dragged ourselves through the line.”
On Saturday, Baxter will have a chance of winning the hearts of more Chiefs’ supporters when he leads the team against SuperSport United in the Nedbank Cup final.
He did not mince his words when he said he wanted to make it a double by winning the trophy.
“It means a lot to me and we will do everything we can to make sure players are ready for the game. We want to win two trophies and we will try to achieve that on Saturday.”
But he bemoaned the lack of killer instincts in front of goals as a cause for concern.
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