Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has already taken a decision on his future
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter knows the decision he is going to take on his future‚ but he cannot reveal it just yet.
After Bafana bowed out of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) having progressed a lot further than skeptical fans at home might have predicted‚ Baxter said he knows what his future holds.
Bafana were knocked out of the tournament after they lost 2-1 to Nigeria in the quarter-finals on Wednesday night.
The coach has hinted for months now that he might leave the national team job regardless of how they performed at Egypt 2019.
Listen to the latest episode of the SportsLIVE PODCAST
At a breakfast with journalists early in the year‚ before Bafana had qualified for the Afcon‚ Baxter said he might leave even if they beat Libya - which they did in Tunisia to qualify for the tournament.
Baxter was asked as he left Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday night after the defeat against Nigeria if he knows what his decision on his future is.
“Just about‚” he responded.
Asked again if he knows‚ Baxter responded:
Asked if he could reveal it‚ he said: “No.”
After shocking hosts Egypt 1-0 in the upset of the tournament during the last-16 stage with a high-pressing game plan that was perfectly executed‚ Baxter kept the same starting XI and a 4-3-3 formation against Nigeria.
But the Super Eagles pushed Bafana far deeper and bossed the game.
“We weren't brave enough in the first half‚ the way we did it without compromise against Egypt‚ we didn't do it without compromise [against Nigeria]‚” said Baxter.
“We ended up being a bit 50/50‚ and they played in-between us. And I said at half time‚ we need to be braver‚ we need to commit to pressing‚ or we need to commit to dropping off.”
“And I also thought our possession was too ball-side‚ it was too slow. And in the second half we opened the game up better. We got into pockets where we could launch attacks from. “Even though we didn't get to those wonderful goal-scoring situations‚ we were always threatening them. And I think that's what we changed and that's what we did better‚ and we had a game in the second half.”
Nigeria coach Gernot Rohr said he knew it would be difficult for Bafana to replicate the Egypt performance for two games in succession.
So the Nigerians turned up the physical battle‚ and pace up-front to get on top in the game and stay there.
“We knew that as well. And I would have like to change [the XI] a little bit for Nigeria‚ but the confidence was so high from Egypt that I think if you change you run the risk of players not being on board‚” Baxter said.
“So we went with the same type of game. But we just didn't drop off at the right times‚ we got chasing the ball‚ and they got in-between us. And that was the threat.”
Bafana's quarterfinal appearance was the first outside of South Africa since the Nations Cup in Mali in 2002.