Stuart Baxter (Supplied by Kaizer Chiefs)
- Kaizer Chiefs confirmed Stuart Baxter as the club’s new head coach on Wednesday.
- This will be his second tenure at Naturena.
- However, the 67-year-old is aware that things are very different to the first time he was at the club.
The worst-kept secret has officially been made public, and Stuart Baxter is back in South Africa, with Kaizer Chiefs announcing him on Wednesday as the club’s new head coach for the second time around.
Sport24 reported last month that the Soweto giants were waiting to pull the trigger to sack Gavin Hunt before ushering the Scot in for another spell at the club.
Just 13 days ago, Amakhosi called time on Hunt’s three-year deal, which saw the rumours of Baxter’s return start doing the rounds. Before that, the club’s fans marched to Chiefs’ headquarters, Naturena, to hand over a Supporters’ Memorandum with several demands following a poor domestic season.
Chiefs responded to the memorandum duly and served the club’s passionate fanbase with a surprise less than 36 hours later with images of Baxter alongside the club’s founder and chairperson Kaizer Motaung, confirming the 67-year-old’s arrival.
It has been six years since he left the club, and during his successful three-year stay between 2012 and 2015, he guided Chiefs to four major titles, with the last piece of silverware the Glamour Boys won in his final season, the Premiership crown.
Steve Komphela replaced Baxter and remained at Naturena for three years until 2018 without winning a trophy. Giovanni Solinas followed suit but was sacked six months later as Ernst Middendorp made a swift return to the club before he too caught the firing line at the end of the 2019/20 season.
In his first interview with the Glamour Boys’ media department, Baxter believes that the club has gone through a lot since he left and that the four coaches before him were not “bad coaches”.
“I’m feeling very, very comfortable with the decision to come back here,” said Baxter.
“It is important that the people understand that the coaches that have been here before me, they are not bad coaches; they’re good coaches, some of them are top coaches in this country.
“This is not about me dismantling everything that’s been done; this is about me trying to find a better balance, maybe rebuilding the culture around the team as well.
“I think Kaizer Chiefs have moved forward a lot since I was here the last time. This time there will be a lot of expectations, I’ll have to manage that.
“This time, it is a tougher league; I think the league has improved in terms of the bottom teams; they are no pushovers now; they’re all tight games.
“It will be different; the game has moved forward; the game has changed… I remember when I came last time and spoke about transitions, some people laughed; now, it is an integral part of everybody’s game.”
Baxter adds that Amakhosi will not be the team who will do the hunting as success has evaded them for so long.
He wants to end the six-year trophy drought.
“I’m going to find out what is new, what I can use that is going to bring us an advantage. It’ll be interesting, and it will be a challenge,” Baxter continued.
“When I was here last time, I know that Chiefs had not win anything for quite a while.
“So, when I came in, I knew that winning something was a priority for them, but I didn’t only look at winning trophies.
“I was trying to build a team, I was trying to bond with the supporters, I was trying to help us to find an identity, and I think that was an interesting part.
“That will be the same again now. If we can keep our eyes firmly on the pathway and not on the destination. I think that will be very important for Chiefs now.
“Now we are the hunter; gradually, we became the hunted in my first stint; I thought the boys did fantastically well, the whole club handle the success very, very well.”
Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard maintain their positions as assistant coaches to Baxter while getting the necessary support from Molefi Ntseki, who the club recently appointed as head of technical and youth development.