STUART Baxter was already looking ahead to next season after what he described as an “incredible” first year at the helm of Kaizer Chiefs following their Nedbank Cup triumph that completed a domestic double on Saturday.
Bernard Parker scored the winner in the fourth minute of extra time for the Soweto club after the match against defending champions SuperSport United at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban had ended goalless in regulation time.
English coach Baxter, who replaced Serb Vladimir Vermezovic in July last year, now has two trophies in that time after guiding the club to the league crown earlier this month.
“If someone had told me at the start of the season we would win the double I’d ask them what how much they were drinking?” an elated Baxter said afterwards. “But as the season progressed, we all started to believe (we could do it).
“You’ve got to be happy to come to a club and win the double in your first year. It’s incredible and I’m immensely proud of my players.”
South Africa’s biggest cup trophy had eluded Chiefs for seven seasons, before they clinched the title for 13th time in their history.
The league was also something that Amakhosi had not won for a while, eight years to be precise, and the club’s hierarchy has spoken strongly in recent weeks about putting the club back where it belongs – at the top of South African football.
And Baxter felt the only way forward from here was to win more silverware in 2013/14.
“We’ll start again from scratch next year, we won’t be champions of anything when the season starts again,” he warned. “Being the champions of last year doesn’t mean a lot if you’re going to get beaten 3-0 every week.
“So we’ll start off after the guys have hopefully had their celebrations already and come back down to earth.
“We’ll try and repeat what we did this year and if possible, had something to it. That’s what we have to do because we’re not going to be able to play exactly the way we did this year.”
Gavin Hunt, the Matsatsantsa coach, thought the new champions were fully deserved of their success and hailed Chiefs owner Kaizer Motaung for what he had done at the club.
“They’re the biggest club in South Africa and your back’s going to be against the wall every time you play them,” he said. “They’re a fantastic football club and you’ve got to commend Kaizer and his family for what they’ve done here.
“When I started playing against them in 1980 it was unbelievable already in those days and it’s grown into a huge empire.”
Hunt, who was predictably disappointed after a second cup final loss in just over eight months, felt Chiefs’ next challenge was to succeed in club football on the continent.
“I’ve said to Stuart they need to kick on and challenge in Africa, because that’s really where they’re going to be challenged,” he added. “I wish them well and I’m sure they’ll grow from strength to strength.”-www.psl.co.za