Stuart Baxter must go‚ says Owen da Gama

Owen Da Gama Head coach of Highlands Park during the Absa Premiership match between Chippa United and Highlands Park at Nelson Mandela Stadium on March 17, 2019 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Owen Da Gama Head coach of Highlands Park during the Absa Premiership match between Chippa United and Highlands Park at Nelson Mandela Stadium on March 17, 2019 in Port Elizabeth, South Africa.
Image: Michael Sheehan/Gallo Images

Owen da Gama believes Bafana Bafana will be better off with a new coach at the helm.

The Highlands Park mentor did not mince his words and said beleaguered incumbent Stuart Baxter must make way for someone who will play the “South African way.”

“Definitely‚” was Da Gama’s answer when asked if Bafana need a new coach.

Da Gama‚ who served as assistant to former Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba‚ said he was speaking out as a concerned citizen.

Continuing to shoot from the hip‚ the forthright mentor also warned the football authorities to stop hiring foreign coaches.

“I think we have got to sit down and talk as a country.

"If we look at the best countries in the world..…

"Brazil‚ they have never taken a foreign coach.

"Germany‚ they have never taken a foreign coach. France‚ they don’t take foreign coaches‚” said Da Gama.

“I wish Bafana could have the same approach and use our speed‚ our skill and our explosiveness to play our football.

“Not to play another brand of football.

"You can’t play a different style of football‚” said the 57-year-old former Platinum Stars‚ Orlando Pirates‚ Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars mentor.

Bafana exited the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt at the quarterfinal stage after a 2-1 defeat to Nigeria a few days ago but it was Baxter’s ultra-conservative approach in the team’s 1-0 group stage defeats to Ivory Coast and Morocco that drew the most criticism.

Although Bafana outplayed and outfoxed host nation Egypt in the round of 16 after advancing as the third best-placed finisher from Group D‚ the overall performance was overwhelmingly disappointing with the scrappy 1-0 win over Namibia the only saving grace.

Da Gama said while it has never been his style to criticise other coaches‚ he could not remain silent.

“I think Stuart Baxter has done the country well and he has done incredibly well so I think we know that. But guys (the media) don’t kill me. “Don’t go and say ‘Da Gama lambast Baxter’‚ because then you are killing me but not the cause (of Bafana’s problems). I’m a South African. Don’t say ‘Da Gama lambasts Baxter.’”

Da Gama‚ who revealed his ambitions to coach Bafana one day‚ said something needs to be done to save the national team.

“So guys if you guys don’t open your eyes then we are going nowhere.

“Our game has got to be based on our strengths.

"Not the way Germany plays. Not the way that team plays.

“All I’m saying is that I will never criticise any coach.

"But guys let’s play our football. So truly hoping‚ I'm truly hoping that we can get someone into Bafana‚” said Da Gama‚ who mentioned Gavin Hunt‚ Pitso Mosimane and Steve Komphela as possible replacements for Baxter.

Da Gama went on to criticise Baxter on his limited use of the reigning SA Footballer of the Year at the Afcon finals.

Thembinkosi Lorch was on the bench for three outings and only got his chance in the last 16 win over Egypt in a game he scored the only goal of the match.

The Pirates star was hauled off with just over 30 minutes to go in the defeat against Nigeria‚ something that Da Gama flatly criticised.

“You people (the media) put pressure that Lorch must play and he played and won a game for us‚" he said.

"The next thing game he gets substituted after 58 minutes and we must keep quite?

“I’m not saying anything guys please. Don’t kill me. Use this information to help our country. Because you guys (the media) fought that Lorch must play.

“I’m on all social media platforms. You guys said Lorch must play.

"Now Lorch must play 58 minutes…and take him and then we lose the game? Lorch always scores in the 80th to 90th minutes. He scores in the last 20 minutes of the game.”

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