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Bafana coach Stuart Baxter

7 September 2018, by: Thabang Kgeledi


Guest columnist Thabang Kgeledi @cheez_zoboblog of Zobo Football Blog fame debates Stuart Baxter’s tenure as Bafana Bafana coach.

I had a debate with my friend Kagiso on social media this week (because, you know, having an exchange with people face-to-face is out of fashion) on whether Stuart Baxter was the right man for the Bafana Bafana head coaching job.

Kagiso argued that Stuart Baxter wasn’t the best coach but rather a panic appointment by SAFA when other coaches they were courting rejected them. He reckons Baxter is the reason Bafana Bafana didn’t qualify for the World Cup as they were in pole position in their qualifying group under the leadership of Shakes Mashaba.

He has a point.

South Africa was sitting pretty with four points from their first two games of their qualifying campaign before Stuart’s arrival. However, I still feel it is too early to judge the Brit, so how much time should we give him before we demand his departure?

Stuart Baxter was hired as Bafana Bafana coach five months after Shakes Mashaba was fired because of… Uhm… nobody really knows why he was sacked but, that’s another story for another day.

He entered another five-year relationship with a lover that dumped him 13 years ago.


WON – 10

LOST – 9


EXCUSES – 178,690

Baxter entered into a tough situation at Bafana because a) nobody thought Shakes Mashaba should have been fired b) his previous stint as coach was unimpressive and c) he is British and everybody hates the British.

Baxter’s Bafana Bafana started off on a good note, beating the Super Eagles in their first AFCON qualifier but then lost four of  their next five games, including embarrassing defeats against Cape Verde – twice!

The losses that hurt the South African public and their chances to go to the World Cup the most, were against Cape Verde. Bafana lost two games, home and away, against the weakest team in the group.

I was first to call for his axing (literally, I called the SAFA offices on Monday morning and asked for Stuart Baxter to be fired) but I calmed down after taking my tranquillizing pills and realised; Baxter didn’t deserve all my vitriol.

Baxter has been in charge of Bafana Bafana for 19 games but only 6 were important, so technically, he has been boss for a half a dozen matches, which is a small sample size to judge a coach on.

His team played okay but poor finishing and individual errors by defenders, e.g. flapping at balls in their own box cost Bafana a goal against Cape Verde.


Defenders backing off opposition attackers on the edge of their own box instead of closing the ball down cost them the second goal against the Islanders at home.


These are the BASICS of football a coach can’t be blamed for that.

How long should you wait before you call SAFA or protest with a hashtag on Twitter for his sacking?

Bafana Bafana play Libya this weekend and Baxter has picked a young squad who he has confidence in. South Africa have to qualify for the AFCON 2019 and make it to the quarterfinals where they should lose respectably to one of the big boys in Africa. Bafana should then at bare minimum finish second in their World Cup 2020 group. Yes, that would mean they don’t make it to Qatar but they will at least be progress.

Should Stuart Baxter fail in those respects then I will be joining the protest with you.

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