New faces, old expectations must be tempered, warns Kaizer coach Stuart Baxter
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JOHANNESBURG - KAIZER Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter has backed his new playing personnel to match the mounting expectations from their supporters ahead of the new campaign – although he stressed that might not be easy at times.
“I think when you bring in new players, they'll always create expectations. I think our supporters' expectations are tempered by the relative disappointments in the last few seasons apart from Ernst (Middendorp's) title run,” he said
The Glamour Boys have been one of the busiest teams in the transfer market after signing eight players, which included Bafana Bafana international Keagan Dolly, after their one year transfer ban finished at the end of June.
Some of their new recruits – such as Cole Alexander, Brandon Petersen, Phathutshedzo Nange, Kgaogelo Sekgota and Sifiso Hlanti – have already shown flashes of adaptation, guiding the team to a Carling Black Label Cup triumph on Sunday.
Amakhosi defeated their arch-rivals Orlando Pirates 4-3 on the penalties after the game ended 0-0 after 90 minutes. But it was after the introduction of the quintette in the second half where they became more fluid in attack.
That second half display appears to have injected a sense of belief into the Chiefs faithful, that once the team blends together as a unit, they'll be unstoppable in domestic football in their bid to end their six-year trophyless run.
“So, with expectations, we don't dodge them but we do what we can,” Baxter said after the win at Orlando Stadium. “But we can't play with a knife on our throats. You've got to make friends with it. Those are the expectations.”
Baxter added: “We are top athletes and we've got to make those demands upon ourselves. You can't promise to win the league and cups but what you promise is that you'll deal with the pressure and give your best in each and every game.”
For Baxter, this feels like a repetition of his first stint at the club - when he had to come in with a host of new players and try to change the fortunes around. He aced his role – winning four trophies in three seasons.
As a result, that memory of nine years ago is still fresh in Baxter's mind. And judging from what he's seen in the ‘Beer Cup' against Pirates and in training since he took over, the British coach believes that he's got quality signings at his disposal.
“I think they are quite realistic. But this will make them unrealistic tonight because we played a lot of good stuff as you say. A lot of the new lads were very bright. None of the new players have come and disappointed me,” Baxter said.
“I thought there were enough shoots of green grass tonight to indicate that we may be able to make a pretty guard out of this one.
But it will be different and hard for them, and they'll have to prove that they are Chiefs players - although some did tonight.”
Chiefs will get two weeks to fine tune their preparations before the new domestic season gets underway. They'll face Mamelodi Sundowns in the quarter-finals of the MTN8 cup – which was also Baxter's first fixture when he first joined the club in 2012.