Bax­ter mis­reads po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics

Pretoria News Weekend - - SPORT -

RE­SULTS, or lack thereof, will not be Stu­art Bax­ter’s down­fall as Bafana Bafana coach.

His fail­ure to read and un­der­stand the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics will lead to his demise if he doesn’t quickly change his ways. The irony though is that if he were to be in pol­i­tics, he would thrive as he has mas­tered the art of “cadre re­de­ploy­ment”.

His move from Kaizer Chiefs to Su­perS­port United and from Mat­sat­santsa a Pi­tori to Bafana for a sec­ond stint showed that the Bri­tish coach has his peo­ple.

That’s not a bad thing when looked at in iso­la­tion. A coach de­serves to be fully in charge and work with peo­ple he trusts, peo­ple who know what he wants.

But things are dif­fer­ent in the na­tional team. You also have to fac­tor in the po­lit­i­cal land­scape in al­most every­thing you do as you aren’t only a coach but also a diplo­mat. The man­ner in which Bax­ter got the job, as a “safe op­tion” after the South African Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion (Safa) strug­gled to get their first, sec­ond and third choices means that he starts on a po­si­tion of dis­ad­van­tage.

Bax­ter’s ap­point­ment di­vided the coun­try be­cause of his first ten­ure and the fact that Safa dragged the process so long look­ing for their man that the pub­lic wanted some­thing spe­cial to make up for the wait. Bax­ter wasn’t that some­thing spe­cial which meant his first port of call was unit­ing peo­ple be­hind him. The vic­tory over Nige­ria in the 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions qual­i­fier was a good start. But he moved a cou­ple of steps back with his rec­om­men­da­tion that Quinton For­tune be hired as his as­sis­tant.

Don’t get me wrong, For­tune is qual­i­fied for this po­si­tion but he isn’t the right ap­point­ment if you un­der­stand the coun­try’s po­lit­i­cal land­scape.

For­tune showed Safa and the coun­try his mid­dle fin­ger so of­ten in his days as a Manch­ester United player that we can iden­tify it with our IBO Cruis­er­weight World Ti­tle, Youri Kalenga v Kevin Ler­ena, 7.30pm, SS9 3rd Test, Eng­land v West Indies, day 3, 11am, SS2 Africa T20 Cup, KZN v Free State, 9.15am; North­ern Cape v Kenya, 3.15pm, SS12 Euro­pean Mas­ters, day 3, 1.30pm, SS6; LPGA Women in Tech Cham­pi­onship, day 3, 6.30pm, SS8 Mo­toGP, San Marino, qual­i­fy­ing, 1.30pm, SS5 eyes closed. That in­di­vid­ual isn’t ex­actly some­one you then bring to the na­tional team to in­spire play­ers to re­spect the jersey he showed lit­tle re­gard to.

The man­ner in which Bax­ter went about in search for a fit­ness coach, an ap­point­ment that can only be made by the team doc­tor not the coach, is an­other not so po­lit­i­cal­ly­cor­rect move on his part. How then does he work with some­one he showed be­fore he had even worked with him that he wants to re­place, or work with the doc­tor he un­der­mined his au­thor­ity?

Bax­ter strug­gled to get the buy-in of his ideals and vi­sion in his first ten­ure be­cause he came with the Mr-Know-it-All at­ti­tude, a stance that will alien­ate peo­ple rather than win you fans. A Bri­tisher com­ing to Africa to tell peo­ple what they have been do­ing is wrong and this is how to do things right doesn’t ex­actly come across well, re­gard­less of the in­ten­tions. That’s where tact is needed.

Peo­ple are more re­cep­tive to­wards him this time around be­cause of his work at Chiefs and Su­perS­port. But his first act after get­ting the job was not to mend the fences that needed to be fixed, in­stead he strength­ened re­la­tion­ships that were strong to fur­ther prove that he has his peo­ple.

With all of this, it doesn’t help his course that he started his ten­ure on a poor note by los­ing twice to min­nows Cape Verde, wash­ing away the his­toric win over Nige­ria in Nige­ria.

The de­feats to the Blue Sharks might have ended our dream to go to the World Cup in Rus­sia next year, es­pe­cially now that the match against Sene­gal has to be re­played. If we couldn’t get a point against the lowly Cape Verde who have never qual­i­fied for the World Cup, it’s hard to imag­ine that we can get six points from Sene­gal – co-hold­ers of the record for the best per­for­mance by an African na­tion in the global show­piece hav­ing reached the quar­ter-fi­nals of the 2002 edi­tion.

So far Bax­ter has done a poor job at ne­go­ti­at­ing the mine­fields in front of him. Man­ag­ing a na­tional team is an in­tri­cate balanc­ing act of not only pro­duc­ing the re­sults but also ne­go­ti­at­ing your way past the po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics.

Bax­ter has ex­celled in nei­ther so far, which doesn’t read well for a man who will be con­stantly re­minded that he wasn’t the first choice. For Shakes Mashaba his ten­ure was about con­trol­ling his tem­per which was fu­elled by how Safa treated him in his first stint. He couldn’t and that led to his sack­ing. For Bax­ter, his ten­ure is about man­ag­ing the po­lit­i­cal dy­nam­ics that come with this job.

If he fails that’s how he will leave it. Cham­pi­onship, New Zealand v Ar­gentina, 9am; Aus­tralia v 11.40am, SS1; Cur­rie Cup, WP v Chee­tahs, 2.45pm, SS1 MTN 8, 2nd leg semi-fi­nal, Mar­itzburg v Su­perS­port, 7.30pm, SS4/SABC1; MDC, Celtic v Sun­downs, 9am; AmaZulu v Pi­rates, 11.55pm, SS4; Premier League, Man City v Liver­pool, 12.30pm; Le­ices­ter v Chelsea, 3.30pm; Stoke v Man Utd, 6pm, SS3; Ar­se­nal v Bournemouth, 3.50pm, SS5; La Liga, Real Madrid v Le­vante, 12.55pm; Va­len­cia v Atletico Madrid, 4.10pm; Barcelona v Es­panyol, 8.40pm, SS7 US Open, day 13, 6pm, SS6 3rd Test, Eng­land v West Indies, day 4, 11am, SS2; Africa T20 Cup, Kenya v KZN, 9.15am; North­ern Cape v Free State, 1.15pm, SS12 Vuelta a Es­pana, Stage 21, 6pm, SS12; Tour of Bri­tain, Stage 8, 2.15pm, SS8 Euro­pean Mas­ters, day 4, 12pm, SS6; LPGA Tour Women in Tech Cham­pi­onship, day 4, 6.30pm, SS8 Mo­toGP, San Marino, Moto3, 10.45am; Moto2, 12pm; Mo­toGP, 1.45pm, SS5 Nascar Cup Se­ries, Fed­er­ated Auto Parts 400, 1.30am, SS6 World champs, 4.55am, SS1 Var­sity Net­ball, Madibaz v UJ, 3.45pm; Tuks v Maties, 5.25pm, SS10 MTN 8, 2nd leg semi-fi­nal, Wits v CT City, 2.30pm, SS4/SABC1; MDC, Mar­itzburg v FS Stars, 9.30am; Ar­rows v Chiefs, 11.15am, SS4; Premier League, Burn­ley v Palace, 12.30pm; Swansea v New­cas­tle, 4.30pm, SS3 US Open, day 14, 7pm, SS6 Third Test, Eng­land v Windies, day 5, 11am, SS2 Var­sity Net­ball, UWC v VUT, 5.15pm, SS10; Tuks v UJ, 6.55pm, SS10 ABSA Premier­ship, Free State Stars v Mamelodi Sun­downs, 5.30pm, SS4 Soc­cer­zone, 9pm, SABC1 English Premier­ship, West Ham United v Hud­der­s­field Town, 8pm, SS3 La Liga San­tander, Malaga v Las Pal­mas, 8.55pm, SS6 In­de­pen­dence Cup, Pak­istan v World XI 1st T20, 6.45pm, SS2 ABSA Premier­ship, Or­lando Pi­rates v Ajax Cape Town, 6.30pm, SS4; Su­perS­port United v Plat­inum Stars, 7pm, SS11 UEFA Cham­pi­ons League, Celtic v Paris Saint-Ger­main, 8.40pm, SS1; Chelsea v Qarabag, 8.40pm, SS2; Man Utd v Basel, 8pm, SS3; Roma v Atletico Madrid, 8.40pm, SS5; Barcelona v Ju­ven­tus, 8.40pm, SS6; Bay­ern Mu­nich v An­der­lecht, 8.40pm, SS8 UEFA Youth League, Barcelona v Ju­ven­tus, 3.55pm, SS6; Celtic v Paris Saint-Ger­main, 5.55pm, SS6 Mo­men­tum eKasi Chal­lenge, Titans v Li­ons, 9.15am, SS8 In­de­pen­dence Cup, Pak­istan v World XI 2nd T20, 4.15pm, SS2 One-Day In­ter­na­tional, Ire­land v Windies, 11am, SS6 Mitre 10 Cup, Can­ter­bury v Coun­ties Manukau, 9.30am, SS1 ABSA Premier­ship, Cape Town City v Kaizer Chiefs, 6.30pm, SS4; Bid­vest Wits v Golden Ar­rows, 7pm, SS11 UEFA Cham­pi­ons League, Feyeno­ord v Man City, 8.40pm, SS1; Real Madrid v APOEL, 8.40pm, SS2; Liver­pool v Sevilla, 8pm, SS3; Porto v Be­sik­tas, 8.40pm, SS5; Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur v Borus­sia Dort­mund, 8.40pm, SS2; Leipzig v Monaco, 8.40pm, SS8; Shakhtar Donetsk v Napoli, 8.40pm, SS10 UEFA Youth League, Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur v Borus­sia Dort­mund, 3.55pm, SS5; Liver­pool v Sevilla, 5.55pm, SS5 Euro­pean Tour, KLM Open, day 1, 11.30am/3.30pm, SS1 PGA Tour, BMW Cham­pi­onship, day 1, 9pm, SS1 Ladies PGA Tour, The Evian Cham­pi­onship, day 1, 11am, 3.30pm, SS8

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