Stuart Baxter believes SAFA's Vision 2022 is paying off
Posted: 26 May 2017 Time: 22:05
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has thrown his weight behind SAFA's developmental plan and agues that it is beginning to bare fruit, noticeably with the under-20s.
SAFA's 'Vision 2022' is seemingly still unclear, with the under-17 national team having failed to build on from their U-17 World Cup exploits in 2015, and the under-20's currently in dismay at the U-20 World Cup in Korea Republic.
Amajita have suffered two defeats from their two appearances at the tournament thus far, going down 2-1 to Japan in their opening clash before surrendering 2-0 to Italy in midweek.
However, the senior national team feels Thabo Senong's chargers deserve credit for having reached the world stage, as he feels it's only a matter of time and the nation's backing before they bridge the gap to Bafana.
"I think the process has been started. I think that the junior national teams have started on that developmental journey and we've seen some green shoots coming through," defends Baxter.
"It is early, but to reach a World Cup is not bad. I think a lot of the players will benefit greatly from being there; I think there are some bright players and some interesting players.
"To get from where they are now to the senior national team is a big journey in anybody's book. I previously worked with England under-20s and there are some of them that are not even playing [now] – they didn't even make Bradford City [in the English third tier] let alone the senior national team.
"It is a big ask for everybody. I think if we do our job properly now, and build that pathway so that every young South African sees clearly, 'well, where do I go after that' and he knows clearly, and has role models [then it's possible].
"When you've gone through that process and you've got a [Sergio] Busquets and an [Andres] Iniesta, and they've followed that pathway all the way through to the seniors, then I think you can really dream.
"We want to capture those players, give them a reason to dream and hopefully we can help them come through."
Baxter also believes the junior team's development is not merely dependant on their results, but on the unearthing of talented players, who get to experience playing at high levels such as the AFCON and World Cup.
"I think there are some interesting players there [at Amajita]; I don't think it's a disaster that we lose to a Japan and an Italy. Let's have a right go at Uruguay now and see if we can finish on a high," he adds.
"But I think there are some interesting players that are going to come out of there... Just one [example] for you: I watched England against Argentina – England thrashed Argentina 3-0.
"I read an article from Argentina, where Newell's Old Boys had pulled five payers out of the squad, but the Argentina coach said, 'that's okay, I'll just get my development program into five new players.'
"I looked at Argentina, and I looked at England. England were boring, they did everything right to win the game, they got a lucky penalty and they won 3-0. You think 'wow, England are doing well, their development program is brilliant.'
"I couldn't see one English player that I thought, 'that's a super talent,' I saw four or five Argentians – a left winger that I thought 'wow, he's going to be a player.'
"Hopefully that's what's going to happen with South Africa. Japan beat us, but I want to look at the South Africans and say, 'hey, but he's going to be a player.'
"I think that's where we have to go, and I think that's where you guys can get on board there. Support whatever we do for that [development]. I don't mean blindly, but rather understand the process and say, 'let's get behind it,' rather than questioning the quality and saying, 'we lost 2-0'.
"If we do that, I think we have a real chance, but we have to do our job, the clubs their job, the players their job, you [media] your job, and we've all got to get together."
South African next face Uruguay in their final group fixture on Saturday at 20h00 local time (13h00 SA time).