Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter announced his resignation on Friday, and after he guided the team to a first Afcon quarter-final since 2013 his resignation signifies another step backwards for Bafana, writes DEAN WORKMAN.
Baxter was appointed as South Africa’s head coach on 4 May 2017 after signing a five-year contract which ran until June 2022 with the mandate of guiding Bafana Bafana to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
However, just two years into that contract he has decided to step away from his role as national team coach.
— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) August 2, 2019
The former Kaizer Chiefs mentor polarised the South African press and public alike, with many not pleased by the style of play he looked to deploy well at the helm but he has managed to pick up the results while looking to blood in a core of players who will serve the national team for years to come.
His tenure did get off to a poor start as Bafana failed to qualify for the 2019 Fifa World Cup in Russia, but they then qualified for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations unbeaten and overcame some difficult mental challenges along the way, showing a fight and grit where sides in the past have faltered.
SAFA Acting CEO, Russell Paul praised Baxter’s contribution to South African football at the coach’s resignation press conference, where also revealed that the coach had done a lot of work behind the scenes with the other national teams and their coaches including the junior set-ups and Banyana Banaya.
— Dean Workman (@DeanoWorks) August 2, 2019
Baxter then guided Bafana to the Afcon quarters where they beat hosts Egypt in front of a capacity crowd in the round of sixteen, again showing a newfound sense of BMT, before they eventually lost to Nigeria conceding a last-minute goal to go on and lose 2-1.
Despite all of this the pressure continued to be pilled on the English coach who decided to step down from his role before World Cup qualification and thus the Bafana coach merry-go-round continues.
The longest ever serving Bafana coach was 1996 Afcon-winning coach Clive Barker, who was at the helm for three years. If anything is apparent in international football, continuity helps breed success and unfortunately yet again when the opportunity was there for a platform to be built for Bafana’s success it has quickly crumbled.
Baxter admitted that it was difficult to operate within the South Africa Football Association structures and now that very same derisory institution will be tasked with finding a coach who can take the side to the next World Cup in 2022.
Baxter has left a solid-enough foundation for another coach to come in and build on it, adding his own impression on the squad as well and help shape a successful Bafana going forward.
However, the right appointment needs to be made and for now at least it is back to square one for Bafana.
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