Baxter resigns as Bafana coach

 

 

Stuart Baxter has resigned from his position as Bafana Bafana coach.

The Scot resolved weeks of rumours on Friday morning, revealing that he no longer felt he was the right person to take the national team forward.

Speaking at a press briefing, Baxter told journalists: “I can not continue to work with the required professionalism and passion I have worked with and to deal with the many issues that will be involved with this programme.”

Baxter was appointed for a second spell as coach in May 2017 and was tasked by the South African Football Association (Safa) to develop a team that would qualify for and be competitive at the 2022 Qatar World cup.

Baxter revealed that he proposed a four step plan to Safa after Bafana’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. The ultimate goal would be to make an impact in Qatar.

The first phase was to rebuild the squad in terms of average age, increase the squad depth and improve the culture surrounding the squad.

The second phase was to go to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and compete with the best once again, which was achieved.

The third phase was to gain momentum going forward. Baxter believes that the squad is now able to do that after reaching the last eight of the Afcon.

However, he believes he is not the man to take Bafana further.

“Someone should continue with this project and therefore I am resigning as Bafana Bafana head coach. It was my personal decision to step down,” Baxter said.

Bafana have enjoyed topsy-turvy form throughout his reign. An undefeated 2018 saw the side set the foundation for qualification at the Africa Cup of Nations — with confirmation after the victory over Libya earlier this year.

In Egypt itself, South Africa struggled to inspire in the group stages and avoided losing only once with a 1-0 victory over Namibia. Nonetheless, it was good enough to book a place in the last 16 where they met the hosts.

The excellent performance that followed was arguable the proudest moment of Baxter’s tenure.

Bafana were subsequently eliminated by Nigeria in the quarter-finals.

Reports recently emerged that Baxter would receive a payout from Safa to step down as the national side’s coach, but the Scot insisted that he is not getting paid a cent to resign. 

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Luke Feltham
Luke Feltham is a features writer at the Mail & Guardian
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia
Eyaaz Matwadia is a member of the Mail & Guardian's online team.

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