Stuart Baxter during the SAFA Press Conference. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – A little wiser and more au fait with the local game, Stuart Baxter believes his second stint as Bafana Bafana coach will bear better results than the initial one.

And his job will be made all the more easier, he says, by the fact that the South African football environment is in a much better position than back in 2004.

Speaking at Safa House, where he was officially unveiled as the man to take over from fired Shakes Mashaba, Baxter exuded the air of a man confident, not only in his abilities, but also assured of his employers’ support,.

And the Scotsman was quick to put that confidence into words.

“My first stint was not friction free,” he said of his reign between 2004 and 2005.

“But I came back because when I spoke to Danny (Jordaan, the Safa president), I was convinced that things are different. I realise that now we have an environment where there is a recognition for the need for development and we are seeing the off-shoot of that work through Vision 2022.”

Given a five-year contract with the unspoken mandate of having to qualify Bafana for both next year’s World Cup in Russia as well as the 2022 edition to be hosted by Qatar, Baxter is under no illusion of the task task ahead of him.

But he believes he can succeed.

“If you asked me why I believe we would qualify now (for the World Cup), I would give you the same reasons I would have given back then. And that is the nation has good players to be competitive and I believe in my ability to coach a group of players and get the best out of them.”

Baxter shared what he says are his short and long term goals.

“I have ambitions short term and that is to win games and qualify this country for major tournaments (World Cup and African Cup of Nations).

"But long term, I’d love to see this country united behind a strategy and goal. Then we could become a powerhouse of African and world football,” Baxter explained.

And he is planning to take an inclusive approach to his tenure that he hopes will “reflect what’s happening in the PSL”.

“Of course I won’t encourage the players to do shibobos in their own box,” he laughed.

“But we will try and play champagne football that is winning football. And I will go to the clubs and have dialogues with the coaches so we can find common ground.

" I will give my input to Neil (Tovey, the Safa technical director) in the coaching development and I will give what I can and try to be the face of Safa that is acceptable to everyone.”

Baxter will only announce his backing staff after having gone through all the reports given to him by Safa and is likely to work with the same technical team for the Nigeria match on June 10.

But thereafter he will decide on his backroom staff.

The Nigeria match provides a stiff return to Bafana for the man currently in charge of SuperSport United and given the “negative” press his reappointment has generated, nothing less than a good win at the Super Eagles will do.

“It’s a big challenge taking on Nigeria way with little preparation. But I’ve been reading about them and I know they’ve been in France for a camp. By the time we go there we will be prepared and we will give them a game.”

Baxter will announce the squad for that match next week Thursday.

The Star

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