If wishes were derbies, Baxter would coach
KAIZER Chiefs coach Stuart Baxter is disappointed not to be calling the shots in what could have been his first Soweto derby against rivals Orlando Pirates.
The Bucs-Amakhosi clash has always fascinated the Brit since 2004 when he was Bafana Bafana coach.
Amakhosi take on the Buccaneers in tomorrow night's Carling Black Label Cup at FNB stadium.
But Baxter, who joined Chiefs last month, is not eligible to pick the side's starting line-up for this game.
As per the rules of the Carling Cup, supporters of the two clubs have voted for their favourite players to take to the pitch tomorrow, leaving Baxter and his Bucs counterpart, Augusto Palacios, with less to do.
"For me, it is a big compromise because I obviously do not have the control that I would like. But maybe it does not matter because there are never any friendly games between Pirates and Chiefs," said Baxter yesterday.
"Maybe [not having control] is a good thing, maybe it is not. Perhaps the supporters are so important that I have to swallow this and give them what they want."
The Englishman is a long-time admirer of the Soweto derby between Chiefs and Pirates, and he watched a few while he was the Bafana coach from 2004 to 2005.
"When I was the Bafana coach I enjoyed watching the derby immensely. People have always asked me about different derbies I have seen and I always tell them nothing I have seen is like the Soweto derby.
"As a coach [of a local club] now, it will be an honour for me to take part in it. Here the derby is a massive party. A massive outpouring of emotions - be it passion or anger."
The coach bemoaned the disturbance the competition caused to the tactics he has been working on since he took over a deflated Chiefs team after the departure of Vladimir Vermezovic.
"Yes, my plans with combinations will be disrupted because I am not picking the team. In a perfect world, I could have thought of this as a normal cup final, but this is the format that we have."
He confirmed that he was not sure how long playmaker Siphiwe Tshabalala would be out for, suggesting that the midfielder could miss the clash against Mamelodi Sundowns in the MTN8 next week.
"We are not certain how long Shabba will be out for and that disturbs my plans for the start of the season. I would have liked to have him on the pitch tomorrow to get some playing time to help him gel with the team."