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Gavin Hunt gives vote of confidence to beleaguered Bafana Bafana coach Baxter

17 October 2018 - 14:28 By Marc Strydom
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is suddenly under pressure to qualify South Africa for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is suddenly under pressure to qualify South Africa for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Gavin Hunt believes Bafana Bafana need to qualify for major tournaments‚ believes they will reach the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon)‚ and believes the national team and coach Stuart Baxter need support to get there.

Four-time league-winning Bidvest Wits coach Hunt was reluctant to comment on Bafana’s shocker when they drew 0-0 against 189th-ranked Seychelles in Victoria in Tuesday‚ on the back of a 6-0 win against the same opposition at FNB Stadium on Saturday.

Eventually‚ though‚ Hunt did give a vote of confidence to beleaguered Baxter and Bafana.

“I don’t want to go there – it’s not really my domain‚” he initially said at a Wits media day at their Sturrock Park training ground on Wednesday.

“Or maybe‚ like Jomo [Sono] always says – he goes to funerals when Bafana play‚ and he doesn’t watch. So maybe I can just say that and get out of it.”

He continued: “But we all watch. We want them to do well.”

Hunt said what is most important for Bafana right now‚ on a path to rehabilitation from more than a decade of underachievement‚ is to qualify for major tournaments.

“I think it’s important for us as a country that we’re in these big tournaments – the Afcon‚ the World Cup.

"Because it will increase the awareness for our country.

“People say‚ ‘Where are you from – South Africa?’ And they go‚ ‘Ag‚ South Africa’.

“And South Africa gets judged on the national team. You don’t get judged on Kaizer Chiefs‚ Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns.

“We had a good thing in the 1990s – winning a Afcon title‚ reaching Afcon finals‚ reaching World Cups. And we had a bit of respect. We need to get that back.”

Hunt said he believes Bafana will qualify for Cameroon 2019.

“We must qualify. And we will qualify for now. Because top two [in each group progress]‚ we should make it. And then we can build from there.

“But it’s so important for us to get behind Stuart and the team. I know they’re going to take a hammering today.

“But‚ I mean‚ it was difficult conditions [on an artificial pitch in Victoria]. And the guy [Lebo Mothiba] missed a goal.

“So we wish them well. I wish them well.”

Hunt said‚ while the negativity that surrounds Bafana will grow from the result against Seychelles‚ he believes the current team do have potential.

“I think there’s a good young team. There’s a freshness and there’s a side that can grow‚” Wits’ coach said.

“A lot of young players have come in. And I think it’s important that we get behind it and support it as best we can.

“Because us [club] coaches need our national team to be in that tournament. They will be there next year – I’m sure they will.”

Bafana‚ on eight points‚ dropped from top of Group E to second behind Nigeria‚ who are on nine points after impressive back-to-back wins against Libya (four points).

The South Africans effectively need a draw against Nigeria at home next month‚ or Libya away in March‚ with a few permutations‚ to ensure progressing.

But for a team this schizophrenic‚ erratic and mentally unstable‚ such a result is far from guaranteed.