Bhubaneswar, June 23 (IANS) Former South Africa cricket skipper Faf du Plessis has advised Odisha FC head coach Stuart Baxter to be on the ‘front foot’ all the time as the latter aims for a playoffs finish in his first season in the Indian Super League.
The former South Africa football team coach will be at the helm of the Bhubaneswar-based franchise in the upcoming season.
“The people I have spoken to say that the Indian players are ambitious. I had an interesting conversation with Faf du Plessis. He said that the Indian cricketers (sportsmen) are fantastic when on the front foot when they go on the back foot, they have too much to do. If they don’t do that they will be totally unplayable,” Baxter said during a virtual interaction with Odisha FC head of football operations Abhik Chatterjee.
“So, my job, I believe, is to make sure that my Odisha players feel like mentally on the front foot in any case and I think all of those things will go together into a style. We will bring in together the works that have been done until now and new stuff that we wanna do and describe it in a way that the players feel ‘Yeah! Let’s go on the front foot’.”
Asked about his target, he said: “Our first target is we want development and we want the result of that development to dictate how high we can pitch in. If you are asking me as a professional, I want to take the team to the play-offs definitely because sixth, seventh, eighth, ninth, tenth is all the same really. We want to play the play-offs and after that, let’s see if we can win it,” the former England U-19 coach said.
Baxter, 66, guided South Africa as they beat Mohammed Salah’s Egypt en route to the last-eight of African Cup of Nations last year.
The English-born Scot, who will replace former Spanish manager Josep Gombau, said he would not like to break the team’s playing style.
“The Spanish coaches before me must have given the players a certain flavour and I don’t believe in this breaking everything down and rebuilding it because there’s obviously some good work done,” he said.
“So, I will retain that good work and hopefully, I will build upon it and find a way of playing which we all will enjoy and give us some result. I don’t have expectations. The people I have spoken to say that the Indian players are ambitious,” he signed off.