'It's not Baxter, all of Chiefs is collapsing'

Premiership

Former Bafana Bafana goalkeeper coach Alex Heredia has come to the defence of technical staff member Lee Baxter and dissected all the current problems he sees at Kaizer Chiefs.

Baxter, the son of Amakhosi's league-winning former coach Stuart, is having his job as the team's goalkeeper trainer questioned by some of the club's supporters.

Under Lee, the likes of South Africa and Nigeria international goalkeepers Itumeleng Khune and Daniel Akpeyi have failed to impress this season, conceding goals almost in every match.

Though it was not entirely his fault, Khune produced another disappointing performance on Sunday against Moroccan side Wydad Casablanca in the CAF Champions League group stage as he conceded four goals.

"Look, in my opinion the specific situation in Kaizer Chiefs is not because of the goalkeeper coach, it's not because of the goalkeepers themselves, each one of them has his own situation," Heredia tells KickOff.com.

"You know Akpeyi, Khune, [Bruce] Bvuma, [Brylon] Petersen, they have their own situations. I don't think they are training wrong, I don't think they are training badly, but the whole setup at Kaizer Chiefs at the moment is very unstable. It's not doing well.

"They are not scoring goals, the midfield is weak, defensively they make a lot of mistakes, the goalkeepers too. I mean a goalkeeper is always exposed to the mistakes because they don't want to be conceding goals. It's not basically goalkeeper coach Lee Baxter who is responsible, he is a very good professional, he's doing well in training the goalkeepers the right way.

"If you point fingers at Khune, Akpeyi, Bvuma... what about [Erick] Mathoho, [Daniel] Cardoso, [Kgotso] Moleko, [Njabulo] Blom... everybody. [Leonardo] Castro is supposed to be a scoring machine, he's not scoring goals. Bernard Parker to me is one of the best strikers in the country for many years, and is not doing well either.

"Don't tell me last year [Willard] Katsande was a super hero and this year he can't play. [Lebogang] Manyama was a captain of Kaizer Chiefs, and sometimes he's not even on the bench.

"Now tell me, in the last 20 years when did Khune make a wrong service [a wrong pass]? Probably never. He's very accurate. The opposition strikers are winning the ball because the defence is not marking properly. So I think it's not a goalkeeper coach issue, I think it's the whole setup."

View the past goalkeepers who used to win games singlehandedly for Kaizer Chiefs

The CAF/FIFA and SAFA instructor was asked if he thought the likes of Khune and Akpeyi are too old to learn new tricks such as playing as sweeper-keepers.

"[Stuart] Baxter managed to have a balanced team when the team was very, very compact. When a team is compact they don't allow opponents to play between the lines. Then [Ernst] Middendorp takes over, he starts very well, then they lose the league, and this had an impact," Heredia explains.

"Then Gavin Hunt tries to keep the shape, and yes at the moment the team is very desperate, is very wide, they allow the opponents to come between the lines, put the ball behind, the goalkeepers are unsettled. When the whole team is not good, the goalkeeper starts to suffer.

"In my 25 years of experience in the PSL, when the defenders are not very solid a goalkeeper will start making mistakes. You know Khune is very committed, Khune is Chiefs. He will try to do his job and somebody else's. He wants to cover spaces. He wants to save the goal, and also wants to go and score the goal. I think he overdoes it on many occasions and he places himself in the wrong places sometimes.

"I'm sure Lee is very worried about the situation of conceding too many goals. And it all depends how much input he has in the team. You know some coaches are very flexible, they will allow you to participate and give opinion. Some coaches don't allow you to do that, they are very strict, very personal.

"I don't know the situation right now at Kaizer Chiefs, what the relationship is between the goalkeeper coach and the head coach. But you cannot blame the goalkeeper coach, I think the whole team is collapsing. It's not solid enough. They can keep a clean sheet, and the next game concede three goals.

"To many head coaches, especially in South Africa, the goalkeeper coach is only there to kick the balls at training, to make the goalkeepers sweat and go home. In the perfect world a goalkeeper coach should have an input on who plays and who don't play.

"I never worked with Gavin Hunt, I know Gavin Hunt since we played against... I played for [Orlando] Pirates, he played for Hellenic. He's a lovely guy but I never worked with him. So I don't know if he allows the goalkeeper coach to be involved."

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