The Big Debate: Should Stuart Baxter stay if Bafana fail to qualify for Russia 2018?
Posted: 6 September 2017 Time: 12:15
Following Bafana Bafana’s calamitous turnaround in 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying, KickOff.com debates whether coach Stuart Baxter should be axed if we fail to make it to Russia 2018.
KickOff.com editor Tshepang Mailwane: He should go…
Qualifying for major competitions is a big part of international football and our players cannot be satisfied with watching the big tournaments from the comfort of their own homes. Safa made the decision to part ways with Shakes Mashaba last year, after the team made a promising start to the World Cup qualifiers, and now the campaign has gone horribly wrong with Baxter’s side suffering back-to-back defeats against Cape Verde. The islanders certainly cannot be underestimated, but the last two games were Bafana’s best shot at getting six points off an opponent in their World Cup qualifying Group D, but team selection and substitutions let the team down. In fact, the two games against the Blue Sharks exposed Baxter at international level, which is a lot harder than the Premier Soccer League, in which he did so well. If Bafana do not qualify for the World Cup, then there’s no reason to keep the coach.
Reporter Chad Klate: He should stay…
Now that the emotions have settled, I’d like to believe that Baxter could still remedy the sad situation Bafana are currently in. Though, I admit, he got the selections wrong over the two legs against Cape Verde, he still boasts a good coaching track record with both Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United. Before you jump to conclusions – yes, club football and international football are completely different ball games, but he is not one to rest on his laurels. The Scot showed promise less than three months ago when Bafana beat a red hot Nigeria, who had not lost since March 2016, in their own backyard. Shortcomings in the COSAFA and CHAN qualifiers cannot be considered due to the obvious selection challenges, but those camps were useful for upcoming stars to get a taste of international football. We may be heading into a historical slump (Bafana have for the first time lost two consecutive competitive games since February 2009), but it was always going to be difficult for any new coach to pick up where Shakes Mashaba left off, and changing coaches now could be even more detrimental to our AFCON qualifying campaign. The win over Nigeria was perhaps the ‘honeymoon’ phase of Baxter’s tenure but, if given a chance to show vast improvement against Burkina Faso and Senegal, things could turn out similarly for Bafana like they did for Chiefs after that 4-1 MTN8 drubbing at the hands of Mamelodi Sundowns in Baxter’s first season at Naturena.