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Kaizer Chiefs began what they hope will be a championship-winning season without the guidance of new coach Stuart Baxter on Tuesday.
Amakhosi held their maiden 2012/13 training session in Naturena but the former Bafana Bafana coach spent the morning locked in a meeting with his technical team, mapping his vision for the club.
Before leaving his boys with the personnel from the Tuks High Performance Centre, who had them doing a battery of fitness tests, Baxter had a short talk with the team, telling them he was “here to improve your game and win the championship”.
It is solely for the purpose of helping Amakohsi end their championship drought that Baxter was brought to Naturena. And to this effect, club supremo Kaizer Motaung has uncharacteristically loosened the purse strings, Bra K bringing in the likes of Bafana Bafana internationals Morgan Gould and Siboniso Gaxa.
Chiefs will on Thursday officially reveal these two plus the rest of their new signings, who include Siyabonga Nkosi (who returns for a second spell), Zimbabwean striker Kingston Nkhatha from Black Leopards, Erick Mathoho and Kgotso Moleko from Bloemfontein Celtic, goalkeeper Brilliant Khuzwayo (who is yet to arrive as he is still involved in the play-offs with Thanda Royal Zulu) as well as Sakhile Hlongwa from Ethekwini Coastal.
Baxter, however, faces one big challenge: to break a Premiership trend that has seen no foreign coach winning the championship at first attempt. It is always a tall ask, particularly for Europeans coming into the country and having to adapt to South African ways and getting players to buy into their way of doing things.
But Baxter might be in a better position than most, since he previously worked with local players during his time as Bafana coach. The Chiefs coach will take the squad to Potchefstroom on Friday for a pre-season camp. But Bafana players have been excused and Baxter gave them a different programme that they will follow.
Chiefs were not the only team that went into training yesterday with BIDVest Wits also holding their maiden session joined by ex-Amakhosi players Tlou Molekwane and Tinashe Nengomasha. Coach Roger de Sa described the initial meeting as very good.
Champions Pirates, like Chiefs, had pre-season medicals for their players, as did SuperSport United, who will be keen to stop the Buccaneers from matching their and Sundowns’ record of three successive championships. It is Chiefs, though, that most of the focus will be on as Amakhosi strive for a first league title since 2005. – Star Africa