Parker on adjusting to life after Hunt’s departure from Chiefs
Return of coach Stuart Baxter has inspired the squad and renewed their confidence and motivation, captain says
Briton Stuart Baxter has been at Kaizer Chiefs for just a few days but captain Bernard Parker says the new coach has already had an effect on the players.
Chiefs sacked coach Gavin Hunt after only one season last month and Parker said the reforms under way at Naturena — former Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has been appointed as head of technical and the youth development academy — have brought many players out of their shell.
“The change has brought life out of this squad‚ not only on the field but also in the dressing room‚” Parker said. “The guys are happy‚ meaning wherever in the world‚ not only in football‚ where there is change‚ we all want to impress the boss.
“Others who did not play‚ now they stand a chance to impress the boss so that they can get the nod. Others who were playing regularly‚ it is now for them to reset and also impress the boss. The good thing is with [caretaker] coach Arthur Zwane and coach Dillon Sheppard‚ they have brought the spark back in terms of belief.
“I believe that will tick all the boxes in terms of confidence‚ motivation‚ courage and other ingredients we need to play for.”
Baxter is certainly no stranger to Naturena as he was the last coach to lead Chiefs to the winners’ podium‚ and it has been a barren six years since his departure in 2015.
Apart from two league titles‚ Baxter won the 2013 Nedbank Cup and 2014 MTN8 in his first stint at Chiefs from 2013 to 2015.
With Baxter having “come home again”, Parker said it was “an extra plus” because he “knows the club in and out” and knows the players too.
“So it is exciting times again for the brand and we only want to work hard‚ work together and have a working relationship to get the brand where it belongs and get the best out of each other.”
Chiefs departed for Morocco on Tuesday for their Caf Champions League showdown against Wydad Casablanca at Stade Mohammed V on Saturday.
Parker has won everything on the domestic front and the Champions League offers him and the club an opportunity to claim a priceless medal that is missing from the trophy cabinet.
The 35-year-old has spent more than a decade at Naturena after arriving in 2011 from Dutch side FC Twente. After winning several domestic trophies with Chiefs he now has the continent’s biggest club football title in his sights.
“I feel great. Time flies hey‚ it’s been 10 years already‚” he said. “Won much‚ I think I’ve won every trophy, I would say. I’ve represented Bafana with over 70 caps. It’s been a wonderful career.
“And what a way to also be blessed with as well being part of the Kaizer Chiefs team that’s going into the semifinal of the Caf Champions League. This is massive‚ this is where we as a team can make history.”
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