Stuart Baxter. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Stuart Baxter. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

Orlando Pirates assistant coach Rhulani Mokwena has been brought in as an observer and to gain experience with Bafana Bafana in the upcoming tournament in Zambia‚ with an eye to him possibly being senior national coach one day.

That was Bafana coach Stuart Baxter’s explanation for the invitation extended to Mokwena to join SA’s technical team in the four-nation friendly tournament in Zambia.

"Rhulani is obviously one of the outstanding young coaches in the country‚" Baxter said when naming a squad of young players together with experienced ones at Safa House in Johannesburg on Tuesday.

"I would like to think he does have ambitions‚ and I would like to think that he can learn from the experience."

Baxter was asked if this concept would become a regular fixture with the national team.

"Yes‚ we want this to be a thing that we do more often. But you can’t do it at every camp with a different coach pitching up‚" he said.

"Maybe for some of the coaches, it will be a recurring thing. Yes‚ you do want to find out how good the coach is.

"If I’m being brutally honest‚ when I was in England a while back, the English media wanted an English national coach. Sven-Goran Eriksson was the coach and they loved him‚ but they would have preferred an Englishman.

"And I’m sure that‚ without being nasty or racist‚ SA should be coached by a South African in a perfect world. And in lieu of there not being a suitable candidate at the moment‚ you can look elsewhere.

"I’m very proud and honoured to be the SA national team coach. But I think that it’s a part of my job and duty to empower those young South African coaches‚ the same as the young South African players.

"And maybe one day Rhulani‚ or Thabo Senong [Baxter’s assistant]‚ will be the senior national coach.

"We won’t be asking Rhulani to put together the game plan so we can follow it. But we will be asking for his input.

"And I think‚ in the future‚ if he realises the talent he undoubtedly has… it’s not impossible for him to be the senior national coach."

Baxter will begin assembling his team on Sunday‚ train at Orlando Stadium on Monday, and leave for Ndola on Tuesday.

Bafana will meet Angola on March 22. Depending on the result of that match‚ they play the winners or losers of Zimbabwe versus Zambia on Sunday‚ March 25.

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