If you thought Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was going to be hauled over the coals after SA’s failure to qualify for the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia‚ think again.
South African Football Association (Safa) technical director Neil Tovey said Baxter’s future was not under scrutiny when they met him this week to review Bafana’s disastrous World Cup qualifying campaign.
Asked why Baxter’s future was not discussed after Bafana failed to qualify for a second World Cup in a row‚ Tovey said it was never the Briton’s mandate to get the team to Russia.
"That wasn’t his mandate … he’s only been in this job for seven months.
"Should we keep replacing the coach? You’re the same people [the media] that were criticising Safa on how many coaches we’ve had over the years. We selected him [Baxter] for a reason.
"Sometimes we have to look at players. He doesn’t kick the ball. It doesn’t mean the strategies were wrong. You can’t go beat Nigeria in Nigeria and suddenly become a bad team. You’ve got to look at the players. Are they giving enough?"
Tovey said he was still confident of Baxter’s ability to take Bafana forward.
"You know it’s always easy to point fingers at the coach. But those players have to start pointing fingers at themselves. They really have to get a big awakening because they’ve got so much potential. But they need to get their heads right and need to wake up."
What was the technical committee’s feeling about SA not qualifying for the World Cup?
"We are obviously unhappy about not qualifying and he’s not happy as a coach‚" he said. "But that was never a question on whether he’s going to stay or not. Our meeting was all about what were the pitfalls? What went wrong? How can we correct them?"
"So where did we go wrong? You have to look at the mentality of the players. Have we got the right players?"
Tovey said the discussion did touch on Baxter’s selection and how he has to think about it in the coming eight months
in which Bafana will not have a competitive match until September 7.
"He must keep the solid foundation and discard those he thinks failed to do the job for him in the qualifiers.
"I can’t talk names because I’m not talking from a coach’s perspective."