Editor's Blog 22.8.2017 10:46 am

Balancing act for Bafana’s Baxter

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter. Picture: Refilwe Modise

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter. Picture: Refilwe Modise

It must be a hard balance for a Bafana Bafana coach to prescribe to the South African Football Association’s “Vision 2022” yet still pick a side that can achieve results now.

In this sense, I do understand Stuart Baxter’s decision to pick veteran defender Morgan Gould for the upcoming World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde.

Baxter no doubt wants to build for the future, to give younger players a chance of what they can do in the South African set-up. In the view of building a team to compete at the 2022 World Cup finals in Qatar, the selection of Gould makes no sense.

He will be 39 years old then, and highly likely to have long-since hung up his boots. But Baxter has a World Cup in Russia in 2018 to qualify for, and in that regard, he has two games against Cape Verde he really needs to win to put Bafana in the strongest possible position in their group.

Gould was one of the best defenders in South Africa last season, and a player Baxter has worked with extensively at Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport – if required, he should have no problem adapting to a Baxter tactical game-plan.

It does also seem that Baxter has compromised slightly on other older, former players of his that could have been in the mix, with Siphiwe Tshabalala and Reneilwe Letsholonyane not getting the nod.

These players, I understand, did come under consideration, but in the end, only Gould was chosen. I think this is fair – there is enough younger quality in the Bafana midfield to make the selection of Letsholonyane and Tshabalala unnecessary.

It is good to see Thulani Serero back in the Bafana frame, meanwhile. Serero had a frustrating last season at Ajax but seems to be in fine form with Vitesse in the Netherlands.

At his best, Serero should provide a brilliant attacking outlet for Baxter, and should certainly create plenty of opportunities for Bafana’s strikers.

Daylon Claasen is also back, slightly bizarrely named as a striker on Safa’s official squad list.

Claasen has struggled a little bit in adapting to the Premier Soccer League in his first two games at Wits, but Baxter clearly saw enough watching on Friday night from the stands in Wits’ unlucky loss at home to Cape Town City.

Moving back to Gould, we speak to the SuperSport defender in these pages, as he speaks of bouncing back for Bafana after a couple of real disappointments.

We also speak to Banyana Banyana interim coach Desiree Ellis, who at the time of going to print, still didn’t know whether or not she was going to be permanent Banyana head coach or not.

On the club scene, we have the latest from Kaizer Chiefs, where Tsepo Masilela speaks of the need to get Amakhosi’s season up and running. We hear from Orlando Pirates’ Abbubaker Mobara, who makes a frank admission, and we also chat to Cavin Johnson, who has an interesting take on AmaZulu’s interesting rise into this season’s Absa Premiership.

Congratulations, meanwhile, to the Class of 1996, Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations winners inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at Sun City this weekend.

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