Baxter asks for perspective for Bafana's CHAN assignment against Botswana

14 July 2017 - 13:09 By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter (R) shares a light moment with his assistants Thabo Senong (M) and Molefi Ntseki (L) during the South African national men's soccer team training session at FNB Stadium on June 06, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter (R) shares a light moment with his assistants Thabo Senong (M) and Molefi Ntseki (L) during the South African national men's soccer team training session at FNB Stadium on June 06, 2017 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter hopes that South Africa can look to the Chan‚ and the hotchpotch of young players not turning out for their clubs‚ and international fringe players‚ he has assembled to compete in it‚ with perspective.

South Africa meet Botswana in Francistown in the first leg of a second round African Nations Championship qualifier on Saturday and‚ as is almost guaranteed to be the case‚ Bafana have had issues assembling a squad in the off-season.

For Baxter‚ he has the tough task of a third Bafana camp in three different competitions with a different group of players.

If the new Bafana coach seemed in his element assembling the cream of South Africa’s players to beat Nigeria for the first time in a competitive game‚ 2-0 in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo on June 10‚ he has appeared far less so with developmental lineups at the Cosafa Cup and Chan.

Bafana finished fifth at the Cosafa Cup in the North West this month. They will take a similarly under-strength team – comprising mostly of players who might make a senior impact in two or three years’ time – to Francistown.

If any coach knows the wrath of an angry public to a Bafana coach‚ it is Baxter from his previous stint in 2004 and 2005.

Seemingly stung by some frankly pointless backlash to a relatively meaningless friendly defeat against Zambia four days after the famous win against Nigeria‚ and then to a poor start to the Cosafa with a defeat against Tanzania‚ Baxter was at pains this week to ask for perspective on Chan – Caf’s low-key tournament for local-based players.

Asked if a defeat was acceptable against Botswana‚ the coach responded: “Look‚ don’t ask me about that‚ because my life goes into tatters every time we lose for two days afterwards. I hate to lose.

“But what I’m trying to do is to have a bit of perspective on the whole thing and say‚ ‘What is vital from this?’

“And what is vital is that we produce a few future internationals. Vital is not to win with a lucky win in the last minute‚ and we all jump up and down‚ but the production line is stopped.

“So if it’s Nigeria (in the Afcon)‚ what’s vital? Beat them. I don’t care how we beat them‚ I don’t care about development‚ I don’t care if the left-back is going to be a wunderkind.

“No. Let’s just beat them. And in the coming World Cup qualifiers (against Cape Verde in August) it’s the same. It’s about getting a result.

“This one is not vital that we win. We’ve got some of the Under-20s who we can give some more international experience to. We’ve got some interesting PSL players who’ve been a bit off the radar.

“Someone like Siphelele Ntshangase – let’s have a look at him. Then there are some who you will say are in-between – your Mario Booysens – so you’re not just throwing the younger ones to the wolves.

“So in that way this tournament serves a purpose. But it does definitely go under the development banner.

“A lot of countries might say that’s wrong‚ but for us that’s how it’s got to be. It’s the only way we can.”

Bafana meet Botswana at the 25 000-seater Francistown Stadium‚ in the city some 400 kilometres north of capital Gaborone.

Botswana have appointed a new head coach‚ former Santos and Thanda Royal Zulu boss Major David Bright‚ since Bafana beat the Zebras 2-0 in a physical encounter at Moruleng Stadium 10 days ago.

- TimesLIVE

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