Stuart Baxter backs his son for Bafana post
Stuart Baxter says he will be "massively disappointed and surprised" if there is a public backlash over him roping in his son, Lee Baxter, as goalkeeper-coach for Bafana Bafana’s Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against Libya.
Lee Baxter, goalkeeper-coach at Kaizer Chiefs where he instructs Bafana’s No1, Itumeleng Khune, has come into the squad for the Group E qualifier at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Saturday as a replacement for Andre Arendse.
Baxter said Arendse, not a permanent national goalkeeper-coach, had to withdraw because of family matters.
Baxter’s squad went from injury-depleted on Monday with the withdrawals of Bongani Zungu and Themba Zwane, to injury-ravaged with Hlompho Kekana pulling out and Lebogang Mothiba almost certainly out pending a scan arriving from his Ligue1 club, Strasbourg.
Baxter’s decision to bring in Lee, who the coach had unsuccessfully requested to have as goalkeeping coach when he was negotiating for the Bafana job in early 2017, is guaranteed to raise eyebrows.
"I will be massively both disappointed and surprised if there is any reaction whatsoever," Baxter said, "because Andre [Arendse] pulls out at the last minute and Lee is the most qualified goalkeeper-coach in the country, bar none.
"Lee has worked with me in Turkey and at SuperSport, with the technical team including Joshua Smith [Bafana’s former SuperSport conditioning coach].
"We don’t have time to go wandering around the country interviewing people and bringing people in."
More important for Baxter is the issue of injuries.
The coach called up Orlando Pirates winger Vincent Pule for Zwane, SuperSport United’s Maphosa Modiba for Zungu and Sundowns’ Tiyani Mabunda for his club teammate and central midfield partner Kekana.
Baxter said the Amiens sporting director had informed him on Sunday that Zungu had twisted his knee.
"I was watching Sundowns against Cape Town City [in Sunday’s MTN8 quarterfinal] and saw Themba Zwane go down with a dislocated toe.
"He came for camp and the doctor [Thulani Ngwenya] told him that the toe could go again. Hlompho Kekana’s got a massive haematoma in his thigh.
"And I’m just waiting now for a medical report from France for Lebo Mothiba, because his club [Strasbourg] … say that he’s got a grade 2 hamstring tear."
Moses Mabhida was the scene of the bottom falling out of SA’s 2018 World Cup qualifying campaign, as they followed up a 2-1 away defeat against Cape Verde with a loss by the same scoreline against the islanders.
Baxter cannot afford a similar scenario against Libya. Defeat would nullify the coach’s glorious starting moment with Bafana, the 2-0 first Afcon 2019 qualifying win against Nigeria in Uyo in June 2017.