Baxter a fall-back option for Danny

Stuart Baxter coach of Supersport United (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

Stuart Baxter coach of Supersport United (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

It now seems a matter of “when”, rather than “if” Stuart Baxter is appointed as Bafana Bafana head coach, and a couple of key points stand out for me.

The first is that Baxter is clearly not the South African Football Association’s first choice for the job. I fully expect Safa president Danny Jordaan to spin it the other way, blaming the media for every single other candidate linked to the job (Jordaan, in current form, would probably blame the South African media for the fact that he has run out of toothpaste).

But I have little doubt that Baxter has been approached after more glamorous names such as Carlos Queiroz and Herve Renard have fallen by the way side.

However, the second point for me is that Baxter is, whatever his position on Safa’s shortlist, a decent candidate to lead Bafana Bafana. Yes, he failed to get Bafana to the 2006 Fifa World Cup in his last stint as Bafana coach.

Yet he was up against a serious re-emerging force in the form of Ghana, and he also qualified the team for the 2006 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt. Baxter has also undoubtedly enhanced his “South African” CV since then in stints with Kaizer Chiefs and now SuperSport United.

His knowledge of the game in this country can only have been improved by the time the Scotsman has spent here. I think the 63-year-old at least deserves to be given a chance to drink again from the “poisoned chalice” and see if he can turn choppy waters into a balm for South African football, and lead Bafana to Russia 2018.

There is no doubt plenty more that can be written on this subject, and we have tried to explore it further on Page 8, as Thembinkosi Sekgaphane looks at the pros and cons of Baxter’s potential appointment, which draws ever nearer, as you can read on the opposite page. Safa have delayed the announcement many times, and one hopes they just get on with it and end the constant speculation they seem so irked about.

Either way, it looks like Owen da Gama will be in charge for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria in June. Safa seem to have conveniently ignored this match – they set up friendlies against Guinea-Bissau and Angola purely with the World Cup qualifiers in August and September against Cape Verde in mind.

I really hope that does not come back to bite Bafana – the Super Eagles are a formidable force and will no doubt want revenge for Bafana knocking them out en route to the 2015 Africa Cup of Nations finals.

Elsewhere in this week’s Phakaaathi, we speak to Baroka FC goalkeeper Oscarine Masuluke, who continues to be asked about that amazing goal against Orlando Pirates.

And we have all the news ahead of a busy week of Nedbank Cup and league action. We also speak to Jabulani Mendu about the sad decline of the once-great Moroka Swallows.

Don’t forget, too, to turn to Page 10 and vote in our Phakaaathi Player-of-the-Month competition for March, for your chance to win R350 in airtime.

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