Playing in his 30th Soweto Derby and just over a week away from his 36th birthday, Parker was arguably Amakhosi’s hardest-working player in leading from the front, and earned high praise from coach Stuart Baxter.
“Bernard Parker probably gave one of the best performances I’ve seen of a PSL player today. Talk of him being too old people should absolutely put that one away for a while anyway. If he plays like that he would get into any team in the PSL. Bernard ran more than anybody else in the team, he ran over 13 kilometres. David Beckham was praised up to the high heavens when he ran 12.4 kilometres in a World Cup qualifier for England.”
Aside from his work rate and performance, Baxter also praised the qualities of Parker off the pitch
Baxter added that all Chiefs fans would acknowledge “this guy loves Kaizer Chiefs Football Club”.
“Bernard is a marvelous human being. He’s a great footballer and he’s a good professional. Bernard thrives on stretching himself as a person, as a player, stretching himself to be what Kaizer Chiefs need him to be. All I’m trying to do is make sure he stays in that zone where he can give that kind of performance. It’s to his credit that he can still give it. That means even if I give a little bit of inspiration, the motivation comes from Bernard Parker, nowhere else..
“He loves being a Chiefs player, he loves the place and he puts his body on the line. For no other reason we should respect that. Bernard has no divine right to get praised, absolutely not. If he plays poorly, like anybody else he will hear it from the technical staff. But he’s so well liked by his teammates, so respected by his opposition, it would be a shame if he’s not appreciated, sometimes if not for the performance on the day, but for the person that he is. If you cut him, he will bleed gold and black,” says Baxter.
The Chiefs coach felt that hamstring injuries to Khama Billiat and Leonardo Castro injuries meant Chiefs lost a bit of balance with their attacking intent and that the game “became a battle to preserve what we’ve got”.
“We showed great discipline. In the last 10 minutes, I wasn’t happy with the way we managed the game and the decisions we took on the ball to allow them to deliver more balls into our box. We were living on a knife-edge, but we’re delighted to win the derby. We’re delighted for everybody at the football club, including the supporters. We have to be better than that, we have to manage games better and stick to what we said we’re going to do better,” said Baxter.
The Chiefs coach also hailed the heroics of goalkeeper Brandon Peterson, who made some absolutely crucial saves at the death.
“Petersen was outstanding, he’s been outstanding since he came into the team. The one save right at the death there gave us the win didn’t it? It’s a one on one, they’re clean though, and he makes a save. It’s a game-changing save. That’s what he’s there for, that’s what he trains to do. He deserves a massive pat on the back. He’s really thrown his hat in the ring and says I want to stay around.”