Stuart Baxter, head coach of South Africa during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals in Egypt. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Stuart Baxter, head coach of South Africa during the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations Finals in Egypt. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Bafana Bafana is going nowhere fast under Baxter, says football scribe Minenhle Mkhize.
Bafana Bafana is going nowhere fast under Baxter, says football scribe Minenhle Mkhize.

DURBAN – Bafana Bafana may have qualified for the knockout stage of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) but the reality is that they don’t deserve to advance to the next stage of the competition.

They should be on a flight back to South Africa.

The senior national team has been lacklustre, sluggish and uninspiring.

Let’s face it, it was through sheer luck that they even managed to scrape a victory against Namibia. Typically, that game was heading for a stalemate until Bongani Zungu broke the deadlock with that header.

Their statistics back my argument.

Coach Stuart Baxter’s team had no shots on target in two of their three group matches. Their only goal was from a set-piece, not created in an open play. How do you win football matches if you don’t test the opposition goalkeepers? It doesn’t help to keep the bulk of the possession if you don’t aim for goals.

Our national team is more concerned about keeping opponents at bay. There’s no aggression and no sense of urgency.

Bongani Zungu walks off the field in disappointment after SA’s defeat to Morocco at the Al Salam Stadium. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix
Bongani Zungu walks off the field in disappointment after SA’s defeat to Morocco at the Al Salam Stadium. Photo: Gavin Barker/BackpagePix

Team selection and substitutions also left a lot to be desired and it is clear that we are not going anywhere under the tutelage of Baxter.

He has failed to turn the fortunes of the national men’s team around and therefore he must vacate his position. Obviously firing Baxter won’t guarantee future success for Bafana but it makes no sense to keep him on after failing to best utilise the armoury at his disposal.

Let’s start from the beginning: Baxter couldn’t take Bafana to the World Cup in Russia even though they were in a relatively easy group including Cape Verde, Senegal and Burkina Faso.

It is unfathomable how Bafana failed to collect a single point against Cape Verde, a team who were just happy to be on the same football pitch as South Africa.

In Egypt, Baxter has not played Thembinkosi Lorch, who is the PSL Player of the Season and scored many goals for Orlando Pirates. Lorch is high on confidence. He can attack from numerous positions - as an out-and-out striker, a winger on both flanks, and as a number 10. He has pace, skill and is a great finisher.

Instead, Baxter has consistently used Lebo Mothiba, who is clearly out of form and not in touch with the flow of the game. I have nothing against Mothiba, but why persist with a player who chases shadows throughout the match?

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The big striker didn’t give us anything in the first two matches and didn’t deserve to start in the last game against Morocco.

Using a target man is a rather strange insistence by Baxter because there was no supply from the wings.

Percy Tau is more influential when he is playing as a main man between the two centre-backs. In this year’s Afcon, he has been operating as an inside winger in front of Mothiba and Themba Zwane.

Granted, the pacy Lorch was never going to save us from this embarrassment by himself, but it is surely worth switching your approach if things are not working out.

It is my view that the search for a new coach must begin. Names such as Gavin Hunt and Benni McCarthy should be considered for the job. Baxter has proved that he is not the man to restore Bafana Bafana.

@Meninhlecr7

 

The Mercury

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