'We have this feeling in SA that it's better to be negative than positive‚' says Bafana coach Baxter

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter greets fans at OR Tambo International Airport after the team arrived back from Africa Cup of Nations duty in Egypt.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter greets fans at OR Tambo International Airport after the team arrived back from Africa Cup of Nations duty in Egypt.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

Irate Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter lashed out at the media after he was asked for an explanation for the national team's performance at the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.

Bafana were eliminated at the quarterfinal stage after losing 2-1 to Nigeria at the Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday and Baxter took exception at being asked about accountability and tactics after he returned with his charges on Saturday.

“I take responsibility and ownership for what I do‚" the Briton said.

"I'm not sure everybody does that. I look at my own performance in the games.

"If there's something that's on my back‚ I'll take it and I'll tell the players that was me.

"If you're looking at the games and you want to say: 'Well‚ we only scored one goal'.

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"If that was an instruction or a tactical thing from me‚ then I'll take that. At this point in time‚ you're completely way off the mark by even going down that route.

“You could choose to go down the routes Jose Mourinho or Arsene Wenger went down but they're football people‚ they're not media people. You could choose that.

"We have this feeling in South Africa that it's better to be negative than it is to be positive. I've got a feeling that no matter how long I work here‚ that's not going to change.”

Bafana made heavy weather of getting to the last eight in Egypt‚ having finished third in Group D behind Morocco and Ivory Coast.

Of the four best third-placed finishers‚ South Africa were fourth‚ but somehow found a way to beat hosts Egypt in the last 16 through a Thembinkosi Lorch goal.

They predictably came unstuck in the last eight fixture against Nigeria and that's where the tournament ended.

Baxter veered from cordial to mildly upset as he faced his inquisitors at OR Tambo International Airport. “I'm thinking that is there any point? I've just come back and the final question is should I be sacked or when are you going to take responsibility for the things that go wrong.

"I take responsibility for when things go wrong but do you take responsibility for that sort of comment?” Baxter asked.

“If we're in the business of looking at ourselves‚ it's like me walking into an operating theatre and telling the brain surgeon I think you should do that‚ that and that.

"Do you take responsibility for that if that fella dies? I walk away then having no responsibility for anything.

"You can say that or ask because you're a journalist.

"You can ask me and I'll say yes but that won't be the first time you ask that question and not the first time you've asked me a negative question.

"It also won't be the first and the last time you question what I'm doing.

"I'll just say‚ from what basis do you do that?

“From your years of coaching and management‚ how do you do that‚ how do you evaluate what we did? Can you tell me what we did against Egypt? Can you tell me how we pressed?

"Do you want to tell me how we played on transition? Where the players should have been and where they were‚ how we defended our box?

"Do you want to tell me about our supporting defender‚ our marking distances and distances between the lines? Do you want to tell me about that?

"On your show‚ you asked me about tactics and I was going to embarrass you and ask you what tactics are.”

Baxter wasn't quite done.

“If you're asking me to be accountable‚ be accountable yourself‚" he continued.

"Ask questions that you know you can back up because you've got to say to me: Do you take responsibility for that?

"Yes I do. Every time and I can take responsibility on the basis of knowledge.

"What you're saying is that I don't need to take responsibility and I can whatever questions I like because I'm a journalist. That's your opinion and I'm entitled to my opinion. It's a game of opinions.”

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