Kaizer Chiefs boss Kaizer Motaung has attributed Stuart Baxter’s exaggerations in an interview with The Star last week to merely a slip of the tongue and backed the Briton to revive the club’s fortunes amid concerns he may have embellished his CV.
While declaring himself “surprised” that Baxter could have overstated his real worth, Motaung stood firm and reasoned it may have been a genuine mistake by the new Amakhosi trainer, who, among other misrepresentations, claimed he had won a league title in Japan. This newspaper found out instead that he had finished third and won promotion via the play-offs.
“Human beings make mistakes,” Motaung said yesterday following the launch of this year’s pre-season Carling Cup, which will feature Chiefs and Orlando Pirates in July.
“He made a mistake and when you do that, it can be blown out of proportion. From what I can deduce he may have forgotten some of the facts … just a slip of the tongue. For instance, in the report he apparently said his captain in Finland was sent off after five minutes, only to find that it was actually after 20-something minutes.”
Motaung was still unmoved on the most glaring exaggeration of Baxter’s interview with The Star – where he claimed to have won a league title with Japanese club Vissel Kobe.
“What he meant was that he won promotion for that club, and to him, it’s a title. It’s like taking a team from the National First Division into the Absa Premiership. The ultimate goal is to win promotion that is (equivalent to) a title. But I’m concerned that he’s perceived to have made those exaggerations,” the Chiefs owner said.
He reiterated that he has confidence in Baxter, in spite of suspicions Chiefs may have hired another unproductive journeyman in their attempt to clinch the championship for the first time in seven years.
“I have checked his profile and I do have confidence in him. He has the capability to put together a team that can win the league championship. But his priority will not merely be to focus on the first team. Too often an overseas coach comes here and doesn’t leave behind a legacy. But it will be different with Stuart because we want him to help us with our academy. He’ll be more hands on in that structure. Of course we’ve also brought him here to win the league and we have to compete.”
Motaung added he was not surprised about the negativity which has followed his announcement last week that Baxter had got the nod. “When you employ a new coach there’ll always be mixed feelings. You can’t please everybody. Even if you bring (José) Mourinho here, some will still question your wisdom. So I expected this kind of reaction.”
On the Carling Cup, which takes place at Soccer City on July 28, Motaung defended the concept which will see fans choosing match-day squads for both Amakhosi and the Buccaneers. Fans will have to select teams via SMS. “Football is a game of opinions and we’ve heard fans on numerous occasions arguing over a coach’s decision. Now this is their chance to be coach.”
Meanwhile, Pirates boss Irvin Khoza confirmed yesterday that Luis Boa Morte, the former Portugal striker who signed with Bucs in January, has left the club. “Boa Morte stated that he wasn’t happy with lack of game-time and asked to be released.”