Stuart Baxter must go‚ says Owen da Gama
Top soccer nations have home-grown coaches, something Bafana should stick to, says Highlands Park boss
Owen da Gama believes Bafana Bafana will be better off with a new coach at the helm.
The Highlands Park mentor did not mince his words and said beleaguered incumbent Stuart Baxter must make way for someone who will play the “South African way.”
“Definitely‚” was Da Gama’s answer when asked if Bafana need a new coach.
Da Gama‚ who served as assistant to former Bafana coach Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba‚ said he was speaking out as a concerned citizen.
Continuing to shoot from the lip‚ the forthright mentor also warned the football authorities to stop hiring foreign coaches.
“I think we have got to sit down and talk as a country. If we look at the best countries in the world, Brazil have never taken a foreign coach. Germany‚ they have never taken a foreign coach. France‚ they don’t take foreign coaches‚” said Da Gama.
“I wish Bafana could have the same approach and use our speed‚ our skill and our explosiveness to play our football. Not to play another brand of football. You can’t play a different style of football‚” said the 57-year-old former Platinum Stars‚ Orlando Pirates‚ Bloemfontein Celtic and Free State Stars mentor.
Bafana exited the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt at the quarterfinal stage after a 2-1 defeat to Nigeria but it was Baxter’s ultra-conservative approach in the team’s 1-0 group stage defeats to Ivory Coast and Morocco that drew the most criticism.
Although Bafana outplayed and outfoxed host nation Egypt in the round of 16 after advancing as the third best-placed finisher from Group D‚ the overall performance was overwhelmingly disappointing with the scrappy 1-0 win over Namibia the only saving grace.
Da Gama said while it has never been his style to criticise other coaches‚ he could not remain silent.
“I think Stuart Baxter has done the country well and he has done incredibly well, so I think we know that.”
Da Gama‚ who revealed his ambitions to coach Bafana one day‚ said something needs to be done to save the national team.
“Our game has got to be based on our strengths. Not the way Germany plays. But guys let’s play our football. I’m truly hoping that we can get someone into Bafana‚” he said.
Da Gama‚ who mentioned Gavin Hunt‚ Pitso Mosimane and Steve Komphela as possible replacements for Baxter, criticised Baxter’s limited use of SA’s footballer of the year.
Thembinkosi Lorch was on the bench for three outings and only got his chance in the last 16 win over Egypt in a game he scored the only goal of the match. The Pirates star was hauled off with just over 30 minutes to go in the defeat against Nigeria‚ something that Da Gama criticised.
“You people [the media] put pressure that Lorch must play and he played and won a game for us‚” he said. “The next game he gets substituted after 58 minutes and we must keep quiet?”