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Baxter's Bafana family affair

Bafana
JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana’s prime candidate for the vacant coaching position, Stuart Baxter, has rubbished claims that he is pushing for his son to be the national team’s goalkeeper coach.

According to weekend media reports, Baxter allegedly agreed to take the Bafana Bafana head coach job on condition that his son Lee is hired as the goalkeeper trainer.

Speaking after his team, SuperSport United’s 2-0 Nedbank Cup last 16 victory over KwaDukuza United in Durban on Tuesday, the Briton denied the allegations and said he hoped the negotiations could be concluded by the weekend.

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Stuart Baxter, coach of SuperSport United, is being courted by Safa to take over the South African national team. Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix

“I try not to comment. I could comment on some of the wretched stories I’ve read. Anything suggesting it was done and dusted a long time ago is completely untrue. Over the next couple of days there’ll be a yes or no from all of us.

“Some of the stories written, that I’m holding Safa ransom because I want my son to be working I make recommendations to Safa and they take them, but I’ve not mentioned staff by name, yet. Maybe someone’s got a five percent truth and 95 percent interesting story,” said Baxter.

Should he get the nod, it would be his second time in charge of South Africa.

Baxter headed the national team between 2004 and 2005, and later also coached Finland, before returning to South Africa as coach of Kaizer Chiefs. He expects it to be a different challenge to the first experience.

“The thing that has interested me is the fact that we’re talking about a different job to the one I had when I came initially. The job we’re talking about is trying to develop and rebuild, and there’s some patience being shown. Does that make it interesting enough to jump at it, well we’ll see.”

The negotiations are expected to be concluded before the weekend. Either way, Baxter will see out the current season with SuperSport.

“There is a time frame. I want to tell my club what’s happening. Either they’ll be pleased to see me go or they’ll be pleased to have me here. If we can do it before Liberia I’d love to get it done, so everybody knows what’s happening,” said Baxter in reference to his club’s visit to Liberia for a CAF Confederation Cup match on Sunday.

He was eager for the matter to be settled as soon as possible, for fear it might hamper SuperSport’s performance in the chase for the league title and in the defence of the Nedbank Cup.

Last weekend SuperSport lost to relegation-threatened Baroka FC to end a 19-match unbeaten league run. He conceded that the surprise defeat could have been influenced in part by the Safa negotiations.

“It’s very possible. Everyone has found it a little difficult; it’s something you can suspect without making it an excuse. I wouldn’t like the players to walk off the field after losing and just forget the fact that our quality was poor, our organisation was poor, our individual technique was poor. That’s probably why we lost the game but in the back of their mind I’m sure they were wondering what was happening.”

Picture: Brenton Geach/Independent Media

As for the league title, he expects April to be a decisive month as they face defending champions Mamelodi Sundowns twice, and tackle fellow title contenders Bidvest Wits and Chiefs.

“If we have a bad month it’ll certainly put us out of the race. If we have a good April, we’ll be in a good position. Cape Town City in some way are playing without pressure. They’re playing a bit under the radar. Sundowns are feeling the heat a little bit – a lot of people breathing down their neck as reigning champions.

“Chiefs are starting to come back. They had it tough and started to believe again.

“Wits are a strong, well-organised team. We’re not happy with the way we’re playing, we’re scratching around for our form, and if we find it I think we could also be a candidate.”

kamlesh.gosai@inl.co.za

The Star

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