Since Stuart Baxter's arrival at Kaizer Chiefs at the beginning of the 2012/13 season, Bernard Parker has been a man on fire in front of goal for both club and country. The Englishman perhaps deserves credit for maximising the potential Parker clearly has got as a creative number 10 who can also score goals as well.
Before Baxter's arrival, Parker was highly ineffective and questions were raised about why he was brought to the club in the first place.
However, fast forward to just a season-and-a-half later and Parker is virtually unstoppable. The 27-year-old scored 12 league goals in the last campaign and is close to double figures already in 2013/14. He also banged in seven goals for Bafana Bafana in 2013 and has started 2014 with three goals in two games during the Chan tournament.
His creativity as a free-roaming number 10 who does his best work from the hole just in front of the opposition's back four is clear to see. Our exclusive Soccer-Laduma stats show that he has tallied 10 assists in his last 29 matches for club and country, and this does not include the 16 goals he's scored as well.
His influence in the build-up play is also immense - he makes close to 40 passes per match which is far greater than the PSL average for strikers which stands at 19.8. In other words, he's twice as busy and creative than your stock forward in the PSL.
His shooting accuracy percentage is also excellent when compared against your average striker in South Africa. He hits the target 61.54% of the time for Bafana which is much greater than the average of other PSL forwards in the country of 41%.
His dynamic creativity in the hole in which he can pull the strings with his clever movement and cultured left foot is highlighted by the close to seven killer passes he looks to play per match in the final third. He also tries to play on average around 5.6 passes into the penalty area as he looks to unlock defences in heavily defended areas.
In summary, Parker's numbers show he is a multi-faceted attacker who can contribute to a team's efficiency in a number of ways. To what does the Boksburg-born player attribute the kind of form that arguably makes him the best attacking player in the country?
He explained his answer in edition 854 of Soccer-Laduma, saying, "When I came back I was still used to the European way of doing things. But I managed to get clever and adapt...my planning starts at training and I have to make sure I have very good training sessions to have very good games."
The prolific hitman will have a chance to add to his tally of goals for the national team when Bafana face Nigeria in a crucial Chan Group A game on Sunday (January 19).
The action gets underway from 19h00 at Cape Town Stadium.