Baxter: SA is a country of extremes
Posted: 2 October 2017 Time: 14:30
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter feels South Africans lean towards the extreme, with their feelings towards the national team no exception.
While fans have been making their feelings known to some of the players following last month’s back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde, Baxter too has been met with criticism but says some have offered encouragement too.
Fans sung the British tactician’s praises after Bafana convincingly beat Nigeria in their opening 2018 AFCON qualifier in June this year, but many have now changed their tune in calling for his sacking.
“I think I’ve been met with a sort of 50/50 – people trying to encourage and people showing their displeasure, but I take that for what it is, it’s a part of my job,” said Baxter ahead of Saturday's World Cup qualifier with Burkina Faso at FNB Stadium.
“You know, you’re never as good as they say you are when you win, and you’re never as bad as they say you are when you lose.
“Disappointment and frustration can throw up a whole whirlwind of criticism – some warranted and some probably not warranted – but you need to take it because you know that this is a game of emotions, and this is a game that stirs up passion.”
The former Kaizer Chiefs mentor, who faced similar criticism and praise throughout his three-year tenure at Naturena, has come to know South African football supporters as “extreme” based on their emotions.
“When it’s all sugary sweet, when you win, then you’re not that good – that stirs up the pride and the passion, and they say some really, really nice things,” he added.
“South Africa is a country of extremes, that’s what I’ve learnt. The people are extremely hospitable, extremely warm, and can be extremely nasty – some of the crimes here are extremely violent.
“But yet, you can’t believe it because those same people will invite you in for a cup of tea the day after. So I think it’s a country of extremes and you’ve got to deal with that.
“Again, you have to make sure you put it in the right place and concentrate on your job, because if I’m going into this game absolutely wetting my pants, then I’m not going to be the national coach this team needs.
“I’ve got to make sure I’m calm enough and focused enough to give them the information, to create a game-plan, to create a vibe in the camp that gives us a chance.
“When they go over the white line [onto the field], we grab the courage to implement that and we’ve got to make sure that we give it all we’ve got.”