Baxter’s technical staff taking shape
• Technical team finally coming together to the satisfaction of coach
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is happy that his technical staff is taking shape and of his own choosing as the team prepares for Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Seychelles at FNB Stadium.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is happy that his technical staff is taking shape and that it is of his own choosing as the team prepares for Saturday’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Seychelles at FNB Stadium.
Baxter has roped in former striker Shaun Bartlett as his second assistant coach – to add to SA Under-17 coach Molefi Ntseki – for the back-to-back qualifiers against Seychelles‚ where Bafana also travel to the Indian Ocean island for Tuesday’s second match.
Former University of Pretoria and Lamontville Golden Arrows coach Bartlett is still not permanent‚ and the Seychelles matches appear to be a form of trial to see if he fits.
But Bartlett’s arrival this week certainly seemed to give Baxter a technical staff – which also includes the head coach’s former conditioning trainer Joshua Smith and goal keeper coach Andre Arendse – that can fit with Baxter’s philosophy.
Bartlett was a loyal playing servant to Baxter in the coach’s previous stint with Bafana between 2004 and 2005.
“All roads lead to Rome‚ I suppose. It’s taken a long time‚ and it’s been if-ing and but-ing and it’s been backwards and forwards‚” Baxter said of his technical staff finally showing some form of finality since his appointment 20 months ago.
“What I would like is to have people in the technical staff who others can identify with. I was interested to introduce Rulani [Mokwena‚ Orlando Pirates’ assistant coach] not to steal him from his club but to introduce him [to international football].
“With Shaun and Andre‚ people can identify with them. I want them to be qualified and I want that to be a great example.
“They are people who I can work with. And so we are getting there. But it does take a while because there are a lot of other considerations.”
Some of Baxter’s failure to appoint a second assistant coach is self-inflicted. He experimented with Quinton Fortune as an assistant who would be based in Europe and SA in 2017‚ and report back on overseas-based players. The move was unpopular with the public‚ as Fortune had often turned his back on the national team as a player.
Bartlett was a loyal servant to the national team as a player and has more coaching experience than Fortune.
What seems clear is that any form of stability in the Bafana technical team‚ which has also seen SA U-20 coach Thabo Senong apparently withdraw his services as an assistant‚ appears crucial for Baxter as qualification for the Cameroon 2019 Afcon grows nearer.
● Dino Ndlovu believes he can impart experience on Bafana’s young striking duo‚ Lebogang Mothiba and Percy Tau‚ as part of the squad to meet Seychelles.
Ndlovu finally arrived in SA late on Wednesday having had a flight cancelled in Hong Kong‚ en route from northern China‚ where he has scored 18 goals in 21 games for second division Zhejiang Greentown.
The striker’s call-up has raised eyebrows given the low level that he plies at his club.
He said he could understand South Africans’ scepticism about Bafana in general and the team’s notorious inability to bury chances‚ but he felt the public should get behind the national team against Seychelles.
“With all due respect to the people of SA‚ credit should be given to the players‚” Ndlovu said. “The people must come and support this weekend - they will never be disappointed.”
Baxter has called up Cape Town City’s Gift Links as a replacement for injured Sundowns striker Sibusiso Vilakazi.
Working out a plan: Stuart Baxter, right, with his stand-in assistant Shaun Bartlett at a Bafana training session ahead of Saturday’s qualifier against Seychelles.