Opinion: Hands, minds off Baxter

Bafana

Sure, it was not the most exciting line-up, nor was it a glamourous affair, but in hind sight we got the job done. This has also not been Stuart Baxter’s approach for the entire two years since his return, but it was obviously adopted for the circumstances the team was faced with.

I’m not quite singing Baxter’s praises, but we need to look at ourselves if we’re still going to take aim at one man, when our men’s national team has just qualified for a major tournament for only the second time in 11 years – excluding tournament hosting.

It would have been a different story had we been perennial qualifiers and all of a sudden then made it extremely difficult for ourselves on this occasion, but we need to give credit for an objective having been achieved.

Even mentally, our players and teams cannot be considered “world beaters”, but this is progress and it will augur well for everyone – from the current players to the future generations as well as to the country at large – going forward.

Barring Darren Keet, Dean Furman, Thulani Hlatshwayo and Rivaldo Coetzee, the current crop of players have yet to experience what playing at a major international  tournament with Bafana is like.

For many of them, this is their first taste of achieving something worthwhile. Let them savour it and go and get the experience in Egypt, and we’ll then assess things before the next qualification phase begins.

We’re far from where we should be, but this should be a new starting point. Everything else from the past shouldn’t matter anymore – that we’ve gotten it right before, broken it, suffered for many years, gotten it right again, broken it again and suffered some more. 

Let this be the steps towards getting it and keeping it right – by that I mean qualifying for major tournaments regularly and henceforth competing to win them. 

Baxter is far from the perfect coach, if ever there has been one, but it’s time we open our minds to his way of doing things and invest our support in the team, who we saw more united than ever before, heading into the AFCON finals in June.

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