Baxter clearly not right man to restore SA pride

Stuart Baxter coach of South Africa during the South Africa Afrternoon Session on the 28 August 2017 at Nike Training Center.
Stuart Baxter coach of South Africa during the South Africa Afrternoon Session on the 28 August 2017 at Nike Training Center.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

There are key questions that the SA Football Association needs to answer as we survey the wreckage of yet another disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign.

The most obvious question is whether Stuart Baxter is the right man to repair the damage of this latest failure.

Evidence from the qualifiers he's presided over - excluding last night's meaningless away trip to Senegal - suggests Safa could not have hired a more ill-suited candidate.

It's a known fact that Bafana under Baxter didn't perform to required standards more than a decade ago, when they finished third in their qualifying group for Germany 2006, with four losses.

Some of us thought that maybe - just maybe - Baxter could redeem himself, having now come into the job after successful spells at Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United which enabled him to acquaint himself with the domestic game.

Our coach has floundered on almost every aspect: selection, tactics, player management and even a basic matter of knowing who in his side is suspended.

He failed us the first time, now for the second time. We can't bank on third-time lucky. But Safa being Safa, it won't be easy to dispense with a highly paid coach who has a contract ending in 2022.

Lest we forget, Baxter was not first-choice. Safa first agreed terms with Carlos Quieroz - who actually had the experience of leading countries, including Bafana - to a World Cup. But his employers, Iran, blocked the move, seeking compensation.

The situation then became desperate when several coaches, including the great Herve Renard and Hugo Broos, could not find common ground with Safa. This is when Baxter was sounded out.

A nation which had dispensed with its head coach in December was without a successor for six months, having missed several self-imposed deadlines to fill the vacancy.

Perhaps there's little wrong in that. What is unacceptable is filling the position with fourth choice who had failed before and not impose a performance clause.

It should have been straightforward as Baxter had at the time found the team on four points from two games. He should have been told: you don't qualify from this position, you're out. Alas, he volunteered to tell us "qualifying was not my mandate", exposing Safa's spinelessness.

Baxter will probably get away with this failure, which is why he lowered the bar when set his own mandate in the aftermath of last week's loss to Senegal, telling the media in Polokwane that he would quit if Bafana don't qualify for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.

Duh! How would Bafana fail to qualify when the tournament has now been expanded and two teams actually make it from the group!

For all his under-performance, Baxter is not the only wrong with our national team. The rot runs deeper, hence in this day and age we still have players booked in to wrong flights, and TV commentators' word is taken as fact regarding players' suspension.

In 2022, we'll probably be talking about the same things. Sadly, the only thing that's likely to have changed then is, inevitably, the coach.

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