Bax­ter must be sacked to ar­rest Bafana’s de­cline

African Times - - News -

BAFANA Bafana’s shock exit from the quar­ter fi­nals of the Cosafa Cup, and its hu­mil­i­at­ing de­feat by 114th ranked Mada­gas­car have brought into the spot­light the team’s rapid de­cline in in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

It’s no longer ac­cept­able for SAFA bosses to keep ask­ing for more time and rais­ing the hopes of the na­tion when the team is fast be­com­ing a laugh­ing stock and a ma­jor source of de­pres­sion in the coun­try. It is high time Danny Jor­dan and com­pany turn the sit­u­a­tion around or make way for other fresh minds.

So dis­ap­point­ing has been the once glo­ri­ous Bafana that very peo­ple were will­ing to even come to watch them for free when they played Mada­gas­car at Peter Mok­aba on Sun­day. But who can blame them? The na­tion has been forced to main­tain an abu­sive re­la­tion­ship with our na­tional soccer team, which saw soccer lovers’ emo­tions be­ing played with for far too long.

But, quite hon­estly, the de­feat by the lowly ranked Is­land was not en­tirely un­ex­pected. The signs of the de­cline have been there for all who cared to see and lis­ten. The slip­pery road to nowhere started way back in 2004, when we were sent pack­ing from the AFCON with­out even scor­ing a sin­gle goal.

Un­der Coach Stu­art Bax­ter, the team failed to qual­ify for both the African Cup of Na­tions and this year’s World Cup in Rus­sia. In the process, it lost twice to Cape Verde at home and away.

The ques­tion on ev­ery­body’s mind now is whether Bafana will ever get out of this slump they are in? We have been in a down­ward spi­ral since the win­ning the AFCON at home in 1996, and reached the fi­nals of 1998 and 2000.

Then we were in the semi-fi­nals in 2002 and quar­ter fi­nals in 2004. That trend went on un­til we just could not qual­ify any­more.

To qual­ify for the next AFCON in Cameroon, we need to beat Nige­ria, Sey­chelles and Libya – a feat which is a moun­tain to climb given the sorry state of our team cur­rently. While Bax­ter is un­doubt­edly a good coach, it seems Bafana have be­come a poi­soned chal­ice for him.

While his pre­de­ces­sors com­plained about the qual­ity of our play­ers, com­mit­ment and lack of top notch goal poach­ers, Bafana were at least com­pet­i­tive and hardly lost to soccer min­nows like Mada­gas­car. It’s quite clear that Bax­ter has lost the plot or never re­ally had any plan for the team.

But his ten­ure as Bafana coach has never re­ally been im­pres­sive. In his first stint as Bafana coach, be­tween 2004 and 2005, the 63-year’s ten­ure only lasted 611 days. At the time, he seemed to have lacked un­der­stand­ing of the South African foot­ball phi­los­o­phy which in­evitably led to his down­fall.

He had been roped in by SAFA in an at­tempt to qual­ify the na­tional team for the 2006 FIFA World Cup in Ger­many. But de­spite hav­ing an abun­dance of tal­ent at his dis­posal, the coach failed dis­mally as Bafana finished third in their group be­hind Ghana and the DR Congo.

The coach ac­cu­mu­lated a be­low av­er­age win­ning ra­tio of 44 per­cent. The Swede’s most no­table vic­tory came in a 2-1 vic­tory against Mex­ico in the 2005 Gold Cup, held in the United States of Amer­ica (U.S.A). South Africa were in­vited to par­tic­i­pate in the tour­na­ment and ad­vanced to the quar­ter­fi­nals be­fore be­ing elim­i­nated by Panama 5-3 on penal­ties fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw.

How­ever, it should be noted that on their path to the knock­out rounds, Bafana drew with lowly ranked Gu­atemala and Ja­maica. Dur­ing the Bax­ter era, Bafana also had suf­fered con­sid­er­able losses against the likes of Ice­land, Burk­ina Faso and Ghana and now Mada­gas­car.

How far has the once mighty Bafana fallen? Al­though we are ranked 72nd in the world, we lost to a side ranked 42 places lower and with a pop­u­la­tion of un­der 24 mil­lion peo­ple.

Bax­ter has once again failed to qual­ify a Bafana side to the World Cup in Rus­sia next year and has only been able to win eight of his last 17 matches, which is a win­ning per­cent­age of 47. This should be enough rea­son to send him pack­ing and bring in some­one ca­pa­ble of re­build­ing Bafana.

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