Stuart Baxter, the best foreign coach to come to South Africa
Kaizer Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter is proving to be one of the best ever foreign coaches that came to South Africa to persuade their coaching careers in past years. The Scottish born mentor came back to South Africa in July 2012, having been involved with the South Africa national team from 2004 to 2005 before he left Africa with the sorrow heart to coach in Europe again.
Stuart Baxter was handed a task to send South Africa to 2006 FIFA World Cup in Germany but failed to qualify and he was released of his duties by South African Football Association in 2005. The failure of his first stint in South Africa didn't bring down the tactician as he came to back in the country to coach at the club level.
His announcement as the new Kaizer Chiefs head coach for 2012/2013 season raised questions marks on some individuals including myself after he failed to qualify for the World Cup. But he proved those people (including myself) wrong when he broke the record by being the first ever foreign coach to win the league in South Africa in his first season in charge. A feat that the likes of former Netherlands captain Ruud Krol and former Barcelona star and Bulgarian born coach Hristo Stoichkov came close to achieve when they coached the South African giant clubs in the past five years
Stuart 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 6-0 win over AmaZulu FC in the opening match that saw them play their next eleven matches unbeaten. The only time Kaizer Chiefs dropped from the first spot on the log was early in the second round of the campaign.
One of the exciting things that the former AIK mentor did to win the title and a trophy in one season, was his different tactics he applied at Kaizer Chiefs. Towards the midway through of the 2012/2013 season, Baxter applied the formation of 5-3-2 converting to 3-5-2 when they attack with their full-backs advancing to the more attacking wing positions.
The 60-year old coach was the first mentor 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 taste the first continental title after failing to guide clubs in Europe and Asia to the ultimate continental tournament.
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 while Baxter’s men will be in to win it for the first time.
The former Dundee United midfielder, who was in charge of Finland from 2008 to 2010, can continue his managerial career in South Africa with his sublime tactics. Let us wait and see how he does in CAF Champions League and whether he defends the league title and Nedbank Cup for Kaizer Chiefs this season.