Un­cer­tainty could be Bax­ter’s down­fall

What­ever the Scot's blue­print for suc­cess is, he must still win

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - @su­per­journo

EVEN as a firm be­liever that Stu­art Bax­ter is the right man for the Bafana Bafana Job, I, too, was quite puz­zled to hear him claim that qual­i­fi­ca­tion for the 2018 World Cup was not a "writ­ten man­date" be­fore pro­ceed­ing to ask us to be pa­tient as he builds a new team. My good­ness, Stu­art, you are tak­ing us for a ride here. And it's not a very snugly one, un­for­tu­nately. It’s costly.

I read a re­port soon af­ter the na­tional team lost the ticket to Rus­sia on Fri­day that this elim­i­na­tion means that Safa has po­ten­tially lost out on more than R140 mil­lion by not go­ing to the tour­na­ment next year.

We were all still lick­ing our wounds when Bax­ter, who I strongly con­sider to have been an up­grade on his pre­de­ces­sor Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba, crossed the line by telling all and sundry that his ob­jec­tive was never to make it to the World Cup.

I am not sure wait­ing a few days would have soft­ened the blow ei­ther, but the coach should have cho­sen his words care­fully. To rub salt into the wound, Bax­ter then at­tempted to sell us his dream of chang­ing the way lo­gis­tics are run at Safa fol­low­ing the Andile Jali blun­der (the player was ap­par­ently sus­pended for the Sene­gal game last week un­til the coach found out 48-hours be­fore kick-off that the mid­fielder was in fact avail­able for se­lec­tion) and how he will grad­u­ally phase out the old guard.

He might just get away with it, given the fact that it would prove to be an­other dent in the pocket for his cash-strapped em­ploy­ers to send him pack­ing con­sid­er­ing pay­ing out the re­main­der of his five-year con­tract would not come cheap.

Per­haps Bax­ter didn’t have enough time to think through his de­feat speech, sure. But to of­fer re­build­ing on top of hav­ing de­nied his job was to get to the World Cup was down­right lu­di­crous. And this is a man who has, for weeks, harped on about South Africa be­ing a na­tion of ex­tremes – in­cred­i­bly hos­pitable, but also ca­pa­ble of all kinds of hor­rific crimes.

He was not obliv­i­ous to the back­lash that would fol­low Fri­day’s re­sult. The loss was likely, but would have still come as a shock. Who doesn’t want to go to the World Cup?

Even na­tional teams mea­sured to be min­nows all over the globe hire and fire coaches ex­clu­sively on whether they have achieved this task or not.

The coach was taken to the clean­ers re­cently for his poor tac­tics in the back-to-back de­feats against Cape Verde in Septem­ber. That is pretty much where our World Cup hopes were shat­tered.

What came his way last Fri­day af­ter the Sa­dio Mane-led Sene­gal ripped through the Bafana de­fence to book their place at the World Cup with an ef­fi­cient 2-0 vic­tory at Peter Mok­aba Sta­dium was twofold, the amount of crit­i­cism di­rected at Bax­ter for the dis­as­ter in Praia and Dur­ban two months ago.

I most cer­tainly did not ex­pect Bax­ter to spend the few min­utes be­fore mak­ing his way to the post-match con­fer­ence draft­ing his res­ig­na­tion later, but I also did not an­tic­i­pate the coach to is­sue a bla­tant dis­re­gard for the job he was re­cruited to do.

What­ever his blue­print for suc­cess is, he must still win im­por­tant games. Re­build­ing should be part of the plan, not an ex­cuse when Plan A has gone wrong.

Bax­ter’s in­de­ci­sive­ness and twist­ing the truth could be his down­fall.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from South Africa

© PressReader. All rights reserved.