Stuart Baxter has told the South African Football Association (Safa) to get its "house in order"‚ saying he found out only on Tuesday morning who Bafana Bafana’s opponents will be for March’s Fifa international date.
Baxter said he had been hoping to travel to the King’s Cup in Thailand where Bafana would have met the hosts and Slovakia and the UAE.
Instead, the coach has had to settle for games against Zambia and Zimbabwe‚ whom Bafana have met on countless occasions. This will limit what Baxter can learn from the friendlies on March 19 and 27.
"I’ve been massively upset this morning because we’ve only just finalised our fixture for this window‚" Baxter said at a meeting to brief journalists on his vision for Bafana in 2018.
"We were going to go to Thailand. And after a long and winding road I’ve only just found out where we’re going."
One element of a "radical transformation" in approach Baxter outlined for Bafana was a far higher emphasis on introducing young players.
He said that the King’s Cup would have presented the ideal opportunity to expose young players to a varied competition at international level.
It also would have allowed the coach to assess who might be worth introducing during SA’s 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying campaign‚ which resumes in September.
"I’m not trying to rubbish Safa‚ I’m not trying to rubbish my own association‚" he said.
"What I said… was that the King’s Cup in Thailand represented an opportunity to give our players experience against Slovakia — Europe; UAE — the Gulf; Thailand — Asia.
"Three different styles‚ humid weather conditions and full houses. It would have been a great opportunity.
"But what I was thinking was ‘let me take the youngest team that SA has ever sent and give them that experience’.
"For me that would be a great start [to 2018 for Bafana].
"Now what we’ve got is a Zambia‚ SA and Zimbabwe [and Angola programme], which Safa will release later because I don’t know much about it.
"But I think we’ve got to get our house in order because the way we’ve done this is all over the place," the coach said.
Baxter is working on a turnaround strategy in 2018 for Bafana Bafana‚ who failed to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.