Baxter finally named as coach

Stuart Baxter

Briton’s appointment does not match up with Safa criteria set earlier this year

Briton Stuart Baxter’s return to the Bafana Bafana coaching seat he vacated in 2005 will draw mixed reaction from the nation’s soccer lovers after the protracted search for Shakes Mashaba’s successor finally came to an end yesterday.

The SuperSport United coach comes up short when measured against the criteria set by his new employers‚ the South African Football Association (Safa)‚ at the beginning of the year.

One of the conditions states that the new Bafana coach needs to have international coaching experience‚ “especially African competition with a minimum of five to 10 years”.

Bafana are the only national team he has coached on the continent and he was in charge between 2004 and 2005.

Many of those opposed to his appointment took to social media yesterday and pointed out that he quit the Bafana job in November 2005 after he failed to qualify the national side for the 2006 Fifa World Cup.

He won 10 of his 23 games in charge of Bafana first time round‚ drawing six and losing seven.

Safa confirmed Baxter’s appointment yesterday but did not reveal the names of the members of his technical team.

The length of his contract was also not made public.

According to a statement issued by Safa‚ Baxter will be officially unveiled to the media and the public in the coming days by Safa president Danny Jordaan when he returns to South Africa from Confederation of African Football (Caf) and Fifa commitments in Egypt.

Bafana have a crucial 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier against nemesis Nigeria early next month and SuperSport have agreed to allow Baxter to be part of the national team’s preparations.

Baxter will‚ however‚ continue to fulfil his coaching responsibilities at the club for the remaining four Premiership fixtures as well as the Nedbank Cup and Confederations Cup.

“Safa and SuperSport United have agreed to work together to ensure that Baxter gets time off post the final league match on May 27 to prepare Bafana Bafana for the upcoming Afcon match against Nigeria,” Safa said.

United chief executive Stanley Matthews said Baxter would be expected to remain at the helm until the conclusion of the Nedbank Cup competition.

“But right now our focus‚ and that of Stuart’s‚ has to be on a strong finish to the league‚ becoming the first club to retain the Nedbank Cup and to fight our way through the group stages of the Caf Confederation Cup‚” he said.

While Baxter’s first spell as Bafana coach was no great shakes‚ he has since gone on to enjoy considerable domestic success‚ including two league championships in three years at Chiefs‚ as well as a Nedbank Cup victory with SuperSport last May.

The Bafana coaching seat has been vacant since Mashaba was sacked in December last year.

He is challenging his dismissal and has taken his case to the Commission for Conciliation‚ Mediation and Arbitration.

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