Baxter pulls plug on Bafana's party animals

Coach determined to instil more professionalism in squad

03 October 2017 - 07:16 By Mninawa Ntloko
Stuart Baxter. File photo.
Stuart Baxter. File photo.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has a surprise in store for the wayward players who partied up a storm after the 2018 World Cup qualifying defeat to Cape Verde in Durban last month.

The players started to arrive in camp in dribs and drabs on Sunday afternoon ahead of Saturday's must-win 2018 World Cup qualifier against Burkina Faso and Baxter said he would hand them a new code of conduct, warning the party animals in the squad to remain professional at all times when they are in camp.

''There's a complete new code of conduct," Baxter said yesterday.

''There will be a presentation named 'The 24-hour professional'. It reminds people that we are 24-hour professionals nowadays.

''When I played in England we were two- hour professionals. We came, we trained, we worked really hard and then everybody went to the pub.

"It has become 24 hours now because the demands on our jobs are so heavy that if you are not professional you cannot keep up with the rigours of the modern game."

Bafana lost 2-1 to Cape Verde in Praia on September 1 and 2-1 in Durban in unexpected defeats that left South Africa's chances of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup hanging by the thinnest of threads.

It emerged after the poor results that some Bafana players partied late into the night.

South Africa's slim chances of qualifying for the global football showpiece in Russia next year will officially come to an end if Baxter's charges don't get the better of unbeaten group leaders Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Baxter has to also deal with injury concerns that are giving the Briton plenty to think about ahead of the crunch encounter.

Andile Jali dislocated his shoulder playing for his Belgium club KV Oostende at the weekend and is doubtful for the match.

Bradley Grobler has a groin issue, but Baxter is confident that he will be able to play.

Itumeleng Khune is expected to captain Bafana in the absence of the injured Thulani Hlatshwayo, but the Kaizer Chiefs goalkeeper also has injury concerns.