Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter: How he outshone Stoichkov, Krol in South Africa

South African football journalist Wright Mbongo profiles British coach Stuart Baxter and his success with Kaizer Chiefs.

 

Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter is proving to be one of the best ever foreign coaches to come to South Africa.

The Scottish born mentor returned to South Africa in July 2012, having been involved with the national team from 2004 to 2005 before he left Africa - with a heavy heart - to coach in Europe again.

Baxter was handed the task to take South Africa to the 2006 World Cup in Germany, but failed to qualify and he was released from his duties by the South African Football Association in 2005. The failure of his first stint, however, did not bring down the tactician as he returned to the country to coach at club level.

His announcement as the new Kaizer Chiefs head coach for 2012/2013 raised question marks for some individuals in the media, including myself, after he had failed to qualify for the World Cup. But he proved those people (including myself) wrong when he broke the record being the first ever foreign coach to win the league in South Africa in his first season in charge.

It was a feat that the likes of former Netherlands captain Ruud Krol and ex-Barcelona star and Bulgarian coach Hristo Stoichkov only came close to achieving when they worked in South Africa.

Baxter guided Amakhosi, as Kaizer Chiefs are known, to their first league crown in seven years. Their start to 2012/2013 Premier Soccer League crown started with a 6-0 win over AmaZulu FC, which followed by the next eleven matches being unbeaten. The only time Kaizer Chiefs dropped from first spot on the table was early in the second round of the campaign.

One of the exciting things that the former AIK coach did to win the title was introduce his different tactics to Kaizer Chiefs. Towards the midway point of the season, Baxter changed the formation of 5-3-2, converting it to 3-5-2 - using the full-backs to advance to more attacking wing positions.

The 60-year old coach was the first to apply a formation of five defenders in the modern era of South African football.

His next big assignment will be to win the CAF Champions League, where he will hope to experience winning a first continental title after failing to guide clubs in Europe and Asia to similar glory. Kaizer Chiefs will want to follow the steps of their fiercest rivals Orlando Pirates, who are just three games away from winning the CAF Champions League for the second time in history.

The former Dundee United midfielder, who was in charge of Finland from 2008 to 2010, is sure to continue his managerial career in South Africa with his sublime tactics.

There's great anticipation in South Africa to see how he does in the CAF Champions League and whether he defends the league title and Nedbank Cup for Kaizer Chiefs this season.

 
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