But Stuart Baxter has no doubt matured.
His professionalism, work ethic and results have been there for all to see with his success at Kaizer Chiefs and progress he’s made at SuperSport United.
We can’t ignore that he hardly meets the criteria set out by his new employers, however. Safa said they want a coach who has previously managed to get a national team to a World Cup or Africa Cup of Nations. Baxter, although his knowledge of SA football is impeccable, doesn’t quite fit the profile.
The only way to silence the naysayers is to deliver qualification and there are some big matches coming up. Bafana are away to Nigeria in the 63-year-old’s first official assignment as national team coach, and then there are those back-to-back qualifiers against Cape Verde in August and September.
Not necessarily unfamiliar territory for Baxter, but the last time he was at that stage, he didn’t do enough to earn any admirers.
FAROUK KHAN: “The process was lengthy, but we hope this is the right man for the job. I think Baxter’s knowledge of SA football gives him an advantage because the arrangement of him being at SuperSport until the end of the season and only then trying to prepare for the Nigeria game would be a disaster. He needs good people around him this time to succeed.”