Stuart Baxter prepared to walk if Bafana fail to qualify for Afcon
And he says it would not cost Safa a fortune to release the Briton from his contract
Stuart Baxter stared down the barrel of a loaded gun this week and said he would quit his job as Bafana Bafana coach if the national team failed to qualify for 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) finals in Egypt.
A candid Baxter said contrary to popular opinion‚ it would not cost his SA Football Association (Safa) employers a lot of money to release him from a contract that runs until the 2022 World Cup in Qatar.
Baxter — took over the job in May 2017 — and his charges face considerable pressure as they have to either beat or draw with Libya in March in the final Afcon qualifier if they are to secure a ticket to the continental showpiece in June.
‘‘If we do not qualify‚ certainly I will tell the FA [Safa] that you had better make sure that you really want me to carry on because I will walk if you want‚” the Briton said.
‘‘And all this nonsense about it will cost them [Safa] a fortune to get rid of me‚ you can ask the guy sitting next to me [Bafana team medic Dr Thulani Ngwenya]‚ it will not cost them a bloody fortune. It will never cost anybody a fortune.”
Baxter revealed that he walked away with nothing when Safa axed him as Bafana coach in his first spell in November 2005 after failing to guide the team to the 2006 World Cup.
‘‘Do you know how much I got that time? I had two years left on my contract [and I got] zero rand. I told the FA as we sat in the meeting there and I looked across the table and they said ‘coach your package’ and I said ‘my package‚ give it to the kids’ and I walked. So it will not cost them a fortune to sack me.”
The forthright Briton also said he could still quit the job even if Bafana secured the result they need against Libya and qualify for Afcon.
‘‘Also‚ if I can’t do the job here‚ if I think that we are not moving forward in the pace we want because of certain things and I just can’t do it‚ I will also walk. Even if they want me to stay‚” he said.
Bafana are placed second in Group E, with nine points behind leaders Nigeria‚ who have already qualified.
Libya‚ who must win to finish second and deny SA qualification‚ cannot host the game in the North African country because of a long-standing Fifa ban and must find a neutral venue.
They are yet to confirm the venue and date of the encounter and the only thing Safa know is that it will be played on the weekend on March 22-24.
The security situation in Libya is considered dangerous, with rival factions and warlords battling for control over the country’s oil wealth. The Libyans have hosted their home games in either Egypt or Tunisia.
Baxter also thanked the Premier Soccer League for agreeing to accommodate the national team by moving some of their games ahead of this crucial match.