Durban – It took almost 100 minutes to break the deadlock, but when it arrived, Bernard Parker’s expert strike wrote the final script of a dream season for Kaizer Chiefs, who are adamant that they are “reclaiming the glory”.
As the champagne bottles popped to toast a league and cup double, Baxter fired a shot back at his detractors over the course of the season.
“I’ve had a lot of people saying and writing things about me this season, and I think I have proved them wrong. I have replied to them in a professional manner, and I think the way I responded to that speaks more about me than winning the double,” Baxter pointed out.
His players, buoyed by their league success, made his point on the field after a sticky first half.
Parker’s 95th-minute strike, after being slid in by the industrious Siphiwe Tshabalala, settled the contest, and sent a capacity crowd into raptures.
Skipper Itumeleng Khune, a towering presence at the back all season, said he was proud of the club’s achievement, but palmed away any personal praise.
“We don’t have any egos at this club, every player stood up and I don’t think that we should talk about individuals.”
Stroking his winner’s medal, Khune also acknowledged the management for making crucial signings of experienced campaigners before the start of the season. One of those signings, Siboniso Gaxa, said the success of his maiden season had answered the doubters.
“It’s not about proving people wrong. At my first press conference, they asked me why Chiefs, who had not done well for several campaigns.
“It goes to show that if you have belief, you can do anything. The key is to kick on next season, and do it again,” Gaxa added, echoing the sentiments of his coach and captain.
Baxter, who has previous experience on the continent with Bafana Bafana, said that history would come in handy when Chiefs set about conquering the continent.
“I’ve been to places like the Congo, and there is a lot you have to overcome,” he admitted.
“A club like Chiefs will obviously look to change a few things, because we limped over the line a bit tonight, and also in the last few weeks of the season.
“But the players stood by the game plan we had at the start of the season, right to the very end, and I am proud of the entire group,” a beaming Baxter added.
Khune, in line to win a raft of personal accolades tonight at the season-ending awards dinner, also looked to the future after a stunning season.
“The marketing team always come up with the slogan for the season. Last year it was ‘Rise Khosi, Rise’, and this season it was ‘Reclaiming the Glory’, and I think we have done that. We will see what they come up with next season,” he added with a smile.
For Gavin Hunt, whose SuperSport United outfit toiled to the last, even with 10 men after veteran Sibusiso Zuma cramped up, it could well be the final game of a glorious chapter in charge, with whispers of a move to Wits University rife.
“I’ve got a big meeting on Monday, and we will know more after that,” he sagely offered.
“Who knows, after this loss, I might just get fired anyway!” – Sunday Tribune