Baxter hints at goalkeeper rotation

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Chiefs have had issues in the past with first-choice shot-stopper Itumeleng Khune featuring throughout the campaign, including on the international front, causing somewhat of a reliance on his fitness for both club and country.

This is also what prompted the exit of Brilliant Khuzwayo, who has since joined Soweto rivals Orlando Pirates, after not being given sufficient opportunities at Amakhosi.

With the arrival of Baxter – son to current Bafana Bafana coach Stuart – the club could be in for a change and, though he admits a congested 2018/19 season could be a challenge, he assures some level of micromanagement to ensure Khune will remain at his best.

“I think Itu is a fantastic goalkeeper, to start with. He’s an experienced goalkeeper, and the thing is with the congested schedule, it’s up to us as the technical staff to micromanage the players – not just Khune but all the players that play for club and country,” stressed Baxter.

“I think if we go all the way to every final in every competition, we land about 57 games this season – that’s minus international games. So, the in-between parts from game to game is going to be critical for us to manage properly. I think we’re up to the task but it’s going to be a challenge.”

Chiefs will be contesting four domestic competitions as well as the CAF Confederation Cup this season, with Virgil Vries and Bruce Bvuma waiting In the wings for their opportunities, while Khune will likely be tasked with fending the goals for Bafana as well.

Baxter, who was a former European-based goalkeeper, has suggested that perhaps a rotation policy would be required to sustain the best level of performance not only from the goalkeepers but also from the outfield players.

“I think, if you look at the big clubs in Europe – let’s take Manchester United for example, when they won the treble [in 2008] they had Edwin van der Sar, Ben Foster and Tomazs Kuszczak, and all those three goalkeepers played in the different competitions that season,” he highlighted.

“And, I think at the top, top level, we have to be reliant on all the players – not just the goalkeepers but every single player ought to be capable. When he puts on the Chiefs jersey, he puts it on because we believe in him 100 percent.

“So, without saying rotation, I think it’s something that has to be done to get the best out of all the players. We’re going to do all we can to ensure all players are fresh and 100 percent ready to go when they put the jersey on.”