No chance of Baxter putting his feet up next year‚ says Safa president Jordaan
Bafana Bafana may have failed to qualify for next year’s Soccer World Cup but beleaguered coach Stuart Baxter and his players will not be twiddling their thumbs in Johannesburg while other national teams are preparing for the global showpiece in the coming months.
Bafana have had numerous requests to play friendly matches since crashing out of the World Cup qualifiers and national teams are beating a path to the South African Football Association’s (Safa) door issuing challenges to Baxter’s charges.
Uganda and the Netherlands are just some of the teams that have requested matches and Safa president Danny Jordaan is confident that Bafana will have an opponent lined up by March.
‘‘We have to play‚ we have to play‚” Jordaan said.
‘‘Next year is also the centenary celebration of Nelson Mandela and we will have a number of matches.”
The five countries that will represent the continent at the World Cup next year asked the Confederation of African Football (CAF) to move the match dates for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers from March to September.
The five countries — Egypt‚ Morocco‚ Nigeria‚ Senegal and Tunisia — want to use the March Fifa week to prepare for the World Cup and CAF agreed to the request.
The postponement of the Afcon fixtures would have given Baxter a headache but Jordaan said they have already prepared a schedule of matches for Bafana.
‘‘We are going to draw up a programme and we have already started‚” Jordaan said.
‘‘Some of that are the Nelson Mandela centenary celebrations and other matches.
‘‘We also have a cooperation agreement with the Dutch and part of that is to play because they have also failed to qualify for the World Cup.
‘‘We have not set a date for the match yet and we will speak to them about that. We are going to work with other countries also.”
Jordaan acknowledged that the Premier Soccer League could have an inadvertent final say on the composition of the squad as the domestic season only wraps up on Saturday May 12 next year.
And depending on the finalists of the Nedbank Cup‚ Baxter could end up selecting a squad composed wholly of overseas-based players in the matches to be played on the eve of the World Cup.
‘‘Our problem here is that we have a league that is running and this means the players that will be available are the overseas-based players‚” the Safa president said.
‘‘But we will ask Baxter‚ even if he plays only the overseas-based players who are back in the country‚ like Lebo Mothiba for an example‚ Luther Singh and Tyroane Sandows.
‘‘These players he must begin to look at them so that when he starts building a team at least he has looked at them. Thabo Cele is another one.
‘‘There are many of these players that never had a look in that he must look at now.”