Give Baxter what he wants – even his son on Bafana's staff


IN MOST cases, appointing family members within an organisation is frowned upon.

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Stuart Baxter looks set to take over as Bafana Bafana coach. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePixLee Baxter could be appointed as Bafana's goalkeeper coach. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu/ BackpagePix

But as we’ve seen in rugby with the Du Plessis, Du Preez and Ackermann families, sometimes it’s the right move.

That is why in the instance of the Bafana Bafana position and the imminent second coming of Stuart Baxter, where it is believed that he wants his son Lee to become the national goalkeeper coach, it should be allowed.

Baxter should be assisted in every possible way to choose his own support staff. His neck will be on the block should Bafana not qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia, and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Cameroon.

So it is only right that he should have the team who he thinks will help him get the best out of Bafana around him.

We saw the problems around an inherited support staff with the Springbok rugby team in 2016. Bok coach Allister Coetzee was unable to convince Rassie Erasmus and Jacques Nienaber to stay at home and not move to Ireland, and Brendan Venter couldn’t join the side either.

Instead, the Boks had three difference defence coaches in eight months, a backline coach who was mightily inexperienced, and two forwards coaches – many of whom Coetzee didn’t want along for the ride.

It played a major part in the Boks losing eight out of 12 Tests last year, and was an easy excuse for Coetzee to use to mask his own shortcomings as a tactician and selector.

That has been sorted out in 2017 after he managed to survive the axe, but he won’t be able to hide behind that at the end of the season.

The same theory should apply to Baxter. If he gets the right-hand men that he wants, he can’t cry “interference” or anything else if Bafana miss out in upcoming tournaments.

And a closer look at Lee Baxter’s credentials would prove that he has a reasonably strong CV that would make him a worthy candidate to guide the likes of Itumeleng Khune, Darren Keet and Shuaib Walters in the Bafana goalkeeping department.

The 40-year-old Baxter is currently the goalkeeper coach at SuperSport United, where his dad is in charge. This season, Matsatsantsa a Pitori have lost just two out of 21 league matches, with nine wins and 10 draws.

Only Mamelodi Sundowns, who have played two fewer matches, have conceded fewer goals – 11 in 19 games to SuperSport’s 13 in 21. That’s a pretty mean defensive effort.

Of course, last season Stuart Baxter also guided SuperSport to the Nedbank Cup title.

But before arriving in Pretoria, Lee Baxter was the goalkeeper coach of top Swedish club AIK from 2008 to 2015, the same club at which he ended his playing career as a goalkeeper in 2008.

AIK were the Swedish champions in 2009, and finished second in 2011, 2013 and 2016.

They also won the Swedish Cup in 2009, the Super Cup in 2010 and were runners-up in the Super Cup in 2012.

Lee Baxter joined his father at Genclerbirligi in Turkey in 2015, and moved with him to SuperSport last year. So, that’s not the worst goalkeeper coach career around.

Stuart Baxter arguably didn’t enjoy enough support from the SA Football Association in his first stint as Bafana coach in 2004-05, and he was fired after Bafana failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.

But now Baxter is 12 years older at the age of 63, has won the league twice with Kaizer Chiefs, was in charge of the Finland national team for three years and coached in the hostile environment of Turkish club football.

Safa, for whatever reasons, missed out on more glamorous names such as Carlos Queiroz, Herve Renard and Hugo Broos as replacements for Shakes Mashaba.

So, they should at least give Baxter what he wants, and see what he can do…

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