CAIRO – After a long pause, Stuart Baxter replied with two words when asked if he knew what his future looks like after Bafana Bafana were eliminated in the quarter-finals of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) by Nigeria.
The Super Eagles ended Bafana’s Afcon dreams with a 2-1 win at Cairo International Stadium on Wednesday. Bafana were woeful in the group stage, losing to Ivory Coast and Morocco.
Their win over Namibia helped them sneak into the last 16 where they produced their best performance to knock out hosts Egypt. They couldn’t emulate that performance against Nigeria even though the coach kept the same starting line-up.
“I would have liked to change a little bit for Nigeria but the confidence was so high after the Egypt game that if you change, you run the risk of players not being on board,” Baxter said.
“We went with the same type of game. We just didn’t drop off at the right times. We were chasing the ball and they were getting in between us.”
Bafana played a conservative brand of football that limited their attacking threat.
“Our penetration play in this tournament has not been the best,” Baxter said.
“That is usually one of our strength; where we launch our attacks from is important. When we have spaces to launch our attacks, we are very good. When teams close ranks, we find it difficult. But I thought that we picked our way through in the second half very well without getting those runners in. That’s something that they’ve got to learn from.”
Baxter failed to take the team to the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia but exceeded the minimum target at this Afcon which was to reach the last 16. On paper he has a good case to keep his job, but his football and body language hints all is not well between him and the South African Football Association (Safa).
“Just about,” was his answer when asked if he knew what his future entailed.
He refused to expand on the matter, but spoke about what Bafana must do to be more competitive.
“We have some very good plans in South Africa, the word implementation needs to be stronger.
“If we can do that then Bafana Bafana will gain from that. We need support.