Baxter: Football fraternity must unite

“When I first come to South Africa it was to the national team. I knew very little about life in South Africa. I tried to prepare myself before I arrived by reading extensively, by talking to people at the embassy… and trying to prepare myself; nothing prepared me really for the life that I was going to have in front of me,” Baxter said.

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“And I remember there was a large element of negativity and I hoped I could persuade people to look at the long term and the short term and I wasn’t very successful. I don’t think at that time that we thought it was that important… and when I say ‘we’ I mean we as a country, we as a football fraternity.

“When I come back to Kaizer Chiefs I got the same negativity. I was accused of not having my CV in order or whatever it was. And then I gained some respect by my results with Kaizer Chiefs and to a degree SuperSport [United].

“So now when my name is mentioned with the national team again we get negativity. Now I understand that the media has a job and criticism is the part of our lives – negative and positive criticism. But I just want to highlight one thing, not Stuart Baxter here, and that’s how we can all get behind the national team.

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“What ambition I’ve got while I’m the national coach now is to try and unite the whole football family behind the development of the game in this country. Yes, I’ve got ambitions short term… I want to win games. I want to qualify this country to big tournaments.

“But on a long term basis, I’ll love to see this country united. I think if we are united, the PSL, the clubs, the national team, the supporters, the media; I think we are united behind a strategy and united behind a vision then I think this could be the powerhouse of Africa and continue to well in world football.

“That’s one of the things that I want to do in my time as national coach. And how can I do that? Because the vision 2022 is already started. It was one of the reasons that I will consider coming back because you know that my first period as national coach was not friction free.

“So to bring me back into this job, the President [Dr Danny Jordaan] and the CEO [Dennis Mumble], and my respect on what they're trying to do to South African football, that enables me to come back thinking that this could different. I really hope it will be.

“I will put my input with Neil [Tovey] into the coach development, coach education, youth development programmes, and whatever I can give I will give.

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“I will try and go out to the clubs, I will try to have dialogues with the coaches and find common ground, I will try to make sure that whenever my advice is needed whatever it is I will give it. I will try to be positive and be a face of South Africa in football in SAFA.

“I’m really looking forward to the challenge. I know it’s difficult. I’ve got to finish my job at SuperSport. I’ve loved my time there, the players have been fantastic and I want to finish my job there in a good way.

“You have to be a very, very proud South African to be more proud than me to lead this national team. So I’m looking forward to it [coaching Bafana Bafana again],” Baxter concluded.