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Five of ex-Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s more fiery and awkward statements of 2019

Former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter.
Former Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter.

Stuart Baxter had a notoriously fiery relationship with the South African press and public in both his stints as Bafana Bafana coach.

In his latest two years, which ended when Baxter quit in August following South Africa reaching the quarterfinals of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, the coach again showed a propensity for putting his foot in his mouth.

Here are five memorable quotes from Baxter in 2019:

Baxter in February, saying he would perhaps quit the job even if Bafana beat Libya in Tunisia in March to reach the Egypt 2019 Africa Cup of Nations:

“Also‚ if I can’t do the job here‚ if I think that we are not moving forward in the pace we want because of certain things and I just can’t do it‚ I will also walk. Even if they want me to stay.”

Cairo, June 27. Baxter annoyed at public backlash in South Africa to his team’s 1-0 opening Nations Cup defeat against Ivory Coast:

“It annoys me sometimes when we hear of the 56 million behind us. When in reality, there’s not 56 million behind us. There's 56 million waiting to chop our heads off.”

Cairo, June 30. Baxter, after beating Namibia, and ahead of meeting Morocco, is more contrite on his view of the public backlash:

“You know‚ we’ve got to think about everybody always comparing the team to the 1996s [Bafana’s Afcon-winning team on home soil]. That was a totally different time

“In 1996 [Nelson] Mandela had just come in with that government‚ everybody was optimistic in the country. The hopes and the dreams which that team reflected - our country's not the same at the moment. People are not as hopeful. So we have really been given the mantle of‚ 'Give us hope'. And that's a pretty heavy burden sometimes.”

Baxter during the Nations Cup, in an interview with the UK’s Guardian:

“If the country is dependent on a result by the national team to give it hope, we fail. We can give it hope for five minutes, but every defeat is met with such negativity because on wider level those hopes and dreams have been flattened.

“There’s too much going wrong in the country: getting the electricity shut down every day, the water shortages, the unemployment, you name it. The country’s not hopeful and they’re in a mental stage of depression; I think that gets reflected. They cannot accept any more negativity so one bad result is met by a tirade.”

The Bafana coach spitting fire at OR Tambo International Airport in July, on SA’s return from the Nations Cup, when asked to rate his side’s performance out of 10:

“I turned down a job offer this week from another African nation, I turned down an offer last week from the Saudis, I have turned down jobs in Asia and South Africa. I am not desperate, I do the job because I want to and I think I can take the team forward, the second I think I can’t do it, I will leave.

“[After the Egypt game] Jose Mourinho sent a text saying that was a performance the boys could be proud of. Arsene Wenger sent a text saying it was an un-African performance, and he was not being derogatory. People out there thought we were fantastic, but I still have to read, ‘Let’s Boycott Bafana’.”