The PSL has improved and produces a better quality of player now‚ says Bafana coach Baxter

31 May 2018 - 16:56 By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter.
Image: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

The Premier Soccer League has improved and produces a better quality of player now than when Stuart Baxter was last Bafana Bafana coach‚ he has said‚ adding that an adverse spinoff is that players are too comfortable there.

Baxter‚ preparing his team for the Cosafa Cup in Polokwane‚ where they kick off in their quarterfinal against the winners of Group A on Sunday‚ was asked if what the PSL provides now in terms of player quality is better or worse than in his first stint as South Africa coach in 2004 and 2005.

"It's one of those‚ where what makes you strong makes you weak‚" the coach said.

"I remember last time there was this debate about selecting foreign players‚ or selecting more PSL players. At that time you had‚ albeit towards the end of their career‚ a Benni McCarthy or a Shaun Bartlett.

"And then you had to select someone who was playing in a PSL that was far from what it is today. So the gap was bigger.

"Because we've got no big stars playing abroad now‚ the gap is negligible.

"So if we've got a player in Belgium now I don't think that he gets any advantage from playing abroad over a player playing in the PSL.

"So from that respect I think the PSL is much more competitive and is giving us better players from the home market.

"On the other hand you get players who land in the PSL and are satisfied. So that hunger that maybe a Nigerian boy has‚ maybe they [SA players] become too comfortable too soon.

"When I was here last time a lad from Soweto who landed in a PSL club was bouncing and chomping at the bit to try to get to Europe.

"Now‚ we land up in a PSL club‚ it's more televised‚ it's adulation‚ it's nicer girlfriends‚ it's the whole package. And then they sit there.

"And it's an important one because that hunger maybe disappeared. So I think we've all got to cooperate - media clubs‚ association - to keep pushing them to make sure they do have the hunger to go on‚ if they can.

"And the other one is that because the clubs have gotten richer and the transfer fees are higher‚ maybe that also restricts them from going abroad.

"So‚ again‚ we've received with the right hand and had to give with the left hand. But to answer your question‚ ja‚ I think it's a much stronger home market now because of the PSL."

Four-time winners Bafana have a bye into the Cosafa quarters. Baxter has brought a young‚ emerging squad to the tournament.

*Marc Strydom is in Polokwane as a guest of Cosafa.