January 17, 2019


Let’s all rally behind Baxter and Bafana


THAPELO-MOLEBATSIBaxter’s competence as a coach is certainly unquestionable. Despite being recycled, the man is there to prove a point. 

Coach Stuart Baxter’s second tenure as Bafana Bafana eventually starts in earnest when he ventures out to lead the national team against Nigeria’s Super Eagles this weekend.

Let’s be objective. The Super Eagles are a completely different cup of coffee and Baxter better get his ducks in a row.

Bafana’s crucial match against one of Africa’s powerhouses will no doubt dominate newspaper headlines come Sunday and Monday. South African football fans will be hoping for a victory against a team that is arguably one of their worst nemeses.

Three points will take them a step closer to the qualifying for the 2019 African Cup Nations (AFCON).

Expectations are an integral part of football, even a Grade R pupil knows that for a fact. And yes, no coach goes into a match planning to draw or lose; these things just happen, especially when a team fails to make use of its chances, something that has been our downfall in recent years. We create chances but don’t put them away.

Baxter’s competence as a coach is certainly unquestionable. Despite being recycled, the man is there to prove a point. He is there to prove to everyone that he can reignite or rather bring back that spark into the team. To be honest, no one can question his credentials.

During his spell as Kaizer Chiefs head coach, he won several trophies including a league and cup double, before going on to revitalize SuperSport United into the highly competitive team that it is today, with some players that were regarded as has-beens.

I mean I give credit where it’s due and Baxter is certainly one of those worthy to be applauded.

It was particularly encouraging when he promised to field a team that will fight for the country against our fiercest rivals. Now, that surely inspires some confidence.

For an ordinary football fan this might have been an innocuous statement, but it certainly isn’t. It actually speaks volumes because he said something that I’ve always had a problem with, namely players that do not seem to understand and appreciate the enormous responsibility that comes with the national team jersey.

The foot-dragging, lack of both passion and desire to win that have been evident in many a player are shocking, to say the least. And this has been one of the key problems with our national team. It bothers me when losing becomes a norm for a professional player.

Some of these airheads lose a game and the next day they are seen in shopping malls posting pictures of themselves and their girlfriends/family members/friends as if nothing has happened.

I think this is exactly the same thing that Bidvest Wits goal minder, Moneeb Josephs was talking about with regard to Orlando Pirates players a week ago. And he was right, he was absolutely right. This is a serious problem with these players who appear to be more concerned with their bling lifestyle than their daily job.

No one is expecting them to win every game, but like a wise man once said, “It’s not about losing but rather how you lose that matters.” And we all know Bafana have been playing, or rather losing, in a manner that inspires little or no confidence.

Now for Baxter to come out and make these utterances means he knows exactly where the problem is – players! The first thing he did was name Thulani Hlatshwayo as new captain before confirming that the armband will not be rotating.

I dare anyone to say Hlatshwayo is not a passionate player. That he doesn’t give his all game in game out. The player is a true epitome of hard work, commitment and passion. He gave his all for the new PSL champions and his exploits have certainly not gone unnoticed.

Tyson, as the tough as teak defenders is affectionately known, is a true professional, a warrior. And he deserves the Bafana captain’s armband.

On that note, I would like to Bafana Bafana well,3 and I would like to call on all South Africans to rally behind the team.

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