New Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was taken aback when he saw the negativity that greeted his reappointment to the national team two weeksago.
The Briton said that after winning numerous titles with former club Kaizer Chiefs and outgoing employers SuperSport United in the last couple of years‚ he did not expect the disapproval that accompanied his return to a job he left in November 2005.
South African Football Association (Safa) president Danny Jordaan and chief executive Dennis Mumble introduced Baxter to the media yesterday for the first time since his appointment, and they revealed that the new man had been given a five-year contract at the helm.
Acknowledging that he took note of the reaction that accompanied his return to Safa House‚ Baxter said he hoped soccer lovers would get behind the national team ahead of the difficult 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier against Nigeria next month.
“Now when my name is mentioned with the national team again we got a lot of negativity‚” Baxter said.
“I understand that the media has a job to do and [that] criticism is a part of our lives‚ but I just want to highlight one thing‚ not Stuart Baxter here‚ and that’s how we can all get behind the national team.
“Danny spoke about all of us getting behind the national team.
“One ambition I have got‚ while I am national coach‚ is to try and unite the whole football family behind the development of the game in this country.”
Baxter’s technical staff was not announced yesterday and Owen da Gama is likely to continue working as his assistant coach in the short term.
And while Baxter will continue with SuperSport until the end of the season‚ a compromise has been reached that he will not travel with the club to Confederation of African Football matches in the coming weeks.
Signalling a massive departure from his sacked predecessor Shakes Mashaba’s regime‚ Baxter said he would travel to Europe and visit all the South African players plying their trade overseas.