Should Stuart Baxter replace Gavin Hunt at Kaizer Chiefs?
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CAPE TOWN - Speculation is rife that Kaizer Chiefs have lined up Brit Stuart Baxter for a second spell as AmaKhosi coach after embattled Gavin Hunt's contract was terminated on Friday with immediate effect.
According to Chiefs' media release, assistant coaches Arthur Zwane and Dillon Sheppard will take over the reins. Chiefs’ next match will be on Wednesday when they host Golden Arrows.
Chiefs on Friday posted a note on Twitter, informing of Hunt's dismissal. However, since then, the club has not said a word about who his replacement will be. The only word from the club was a comment by Jessica Motaung, Chiefs' marketing manager, who said: "As per the press release, future announcements will be made in due course.”
Closely paired to the Baxter speculation mainly on the social networking service Twitter is the hunch that another former Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki, will be named Baxter's assistant.
Baxter, a former England Under-19 coach, had two spells as South African national team coach. His other working experience in South Africa was with PSL club SuperSport United.
Ntseki was fired as Bafana Bafana coach two months ago. He too, like Baxter, is out of work.
Baxter last worked in India, where he coached a Super League club Odisha. He was sacked two months ago after unacceptable comments about a refereeing decision. Nevertheless, during Baxter's term there, Odisha suffered a string of defeats and were rock bottom on the standings at the time of his sacking.
His anticipated return to Chiefs means that Baxter will be reunited with his son, Lee, who is the club's goalkeeping coach.
Earlier this year, when Chiefs were at the height of their slump, Lee took a fair amount of flak on social media platforms. However, Bafana goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia came to his defence and said it was not the goalkeepers who were the root cause of the club's poor run of results.
Soon after Hunt's appointment, it came to that light that Hunt wanted William Shongwe on the technical staff as the goalkeeper coach, but that request was denied.
Baxter, during his 2012–2015 stint at Kaizer Chiefs, won four major trophies including two PSL titles.
A feature of the Twitter frenzy in the wake of the sacking saga is the overwhelming feeling that Hunt is not primarily responsible for the rotten sequence of results. Many point to Bobby Motaung, the manager and son of the chairman Kaizer Motaung, as the root cause of the slump.
It appears that Chiefs have given the matter of Hunt's successor some thought, given Jessica Motaung's recent media comments.
"It is also critical that we are investing for the future, and I think coach Arthur (Zwane) is one for the future,” said Motaung.
“It’s great to have Dillon working with him, and it’s also great because there will be continuity and consistency moving forward.
“We’ve seen that you need to groom coaches of the future who understand the youth, who understand the new trends, who understand how technology can be incorporated. And most importantly who understand the culture of the club."
Apart from appointing a coach, Chiefs will also have to consider the matter of a few stalwarts whose contracts will expire at the end of June. These include Bernard Parker, Khama Billiat, Lebogang Manyama, Bruce Bvuma, Philani Zulu and Willard Katsande.
It will come as a massive relief for Chiefs when FIFA's two-window transfer ban ends in July 2021 because they will be able to secure fresh recruitments.
Earlier this year, Hunt said the present playing squad was mentally scarred after surrendering the Premiership title to Mamelodi Sundowns on the final day last season.
Some of the fresh faces on Chiefs' recruitment radar includes Leletu Skelem (Stellenbosch), Thabo Nodada and Bradley Ralani (both Cape Town City), Haashim Domingo and Grant Margeman (both Sundowns), Goodman Mosele (Baroka) and Njabulo Ngcobo (Moroka Swallows).