Senior Bafana stars call for Baxter to stay

Stuart Baxter during the South African national men's soccer team training session at FNB Stadium. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

Stuart Baxter during the South African national men's soccer team training session at FNB Stadium. (Photo by Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images)

As the team arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday, Baxter said he needed to go back to Sweden to think about whether he wants to continue.

Bongani Zungu and Dean Furman have both backed Stuart Baxter to stay on as Bafana Bafana coach, as speculation over his future swirls following the team’s return from the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt.

As the team arrived at OR Tambo International Airport on Saturday, Baxter said he needed to go back to Sweden to think about whether he wants to continue.

Even though South Africa reached the quarterfinals, their best performance at an Afcon outside these shores since 2002, stunning the hosts in the last-16, there has been plenty of criticism of the way Bafana performed in Egypt, especially in the group stages, when they were lucky to get to the knockout rounds.

Baxter has also repeatedly criticised his side’s preparation for the competition, where they only played one friendly, effectively saying they had to use the group stages as extra warm-up matches.

READ: Baxter: I can leave this job, I am not desperate

Baxter was full of praise for the way his side performed against Egypt, and name-dropping the fact that both Jose Mourinho and Arsene Wenger had sent messages of support after Bafana had outsmarted the Pharaohs.

He praised his players for a “tactical masterclass”, and Furman returned the compliment.

“I have worked with the coach (Baxter) a long time and I know how meticulous his planning is,” said Furman, who was one of Bafana’s best players in Egypt, along with Zungu.

“He doesn’t take enough credit, for how we set up, and how we worked on the training ground to cause teams problems not just when we had the ball, but also when we didn’t.

“The way I see it we have been with the coach two years, and we were disappointed not to go to the (2018) World Cup, but we qualfiied for the Afcon by beating Nigeria away in another performance in which we were tactically superior, when we had only worked with the coach a week or two. Then we went to Tunisia to play Libya, and against we worked for a week, and yes, the players performed, but the way we set up to nullify their threat was overlooked.”

Zungu, who netted two goals in Egypt, backed up Furman’s words.

“For me as a South African footballer, to have a coach who understands our psychology, our mentality, is a blessing. He understands us, he understands South African football and that has helped a lot of players. I would like him to stay,” said the Amiens midfielder.

 

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