JOHANNESBURG - Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is glad that the Safa elections are over because it means that the number of requests he made but fell through the cracks can now be sorted.
Safa haven’t finalised Baxter’s technical team more than a year after he was named as Bafana coach. The British coach sent recommendations of the personnel he wanted to be brought on board, including the appointment of a permanent second assistant, but that hasn’t been done.
It would have been extremely difficult to finalise that matter in the last couple of months with the focus on the tumultuous elections that have seen insults and allegations thrown in both directions leading up to the contest for the Safa presidential seat between Danny Jordaan and Ace Ncobo.
Jordaan was re-elected unopposed on Saturday at the Sandton Convention Centre after Ncobo withdrew in the morning, citing fearing for his life after he was threatened by a delegate and alleging that the elective congress was “illegal and unlawful”.
Jordaan’s triumph seems to have brought an end to a turbulent period with Ncobo non-committal on whether he will challenge the outcome of these results even though he hinted he might.
“I made recommendations (for the second assistant) quite a while back,” Baxter said. “I think for varying reasons it’s been held in abeyance. The whole structure of the coaching staff, I have made recommendations on it. This one with the kids, why?
"This one with the seniors, why? This one as a bridge between the juniors and the seniors, why. That’s still to be nailed down. I think that (the Safa elections have been a distraction), people have one eye on the ball. It’s been difficult in this period to drive things through.
"It’s been difficult to get people’s attention and make sure that we do this, which is understandable given some of the headlines that we have seen and the way things have been so acrimonious.”
Upon his return from the Four Nations in Zambia in March, Baxter said he wanted a competitive friendly and a camp with the squad he will use in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against Libya on September 7. Neither of those requests were met.
“I think it’s partly (because of the elections),” Baxter said. “It has been difficult. I am not going to nail anyone into a cross and say that it’s his fault. I just think that the whole focus really has been the elections are coming and to make sure that it’s done the correct way.”
While the Safa elections hogged the headlines on Saturday, Baxter arrived in Polokwane with an experimental but competitive Bafana side that will do battle in the Cosafa Cup that started on Sunday. Bafana will start their campaign on Saturday in the quarter-final against the winner of Group A, which could either be Mozambique, Seychelles, Comoros or Madagascar.
“We can’t continue doing the same things (and expect different results),” Baxter said. "We can’t. It’s impossible. Because what’s happening is that every game is important and it’s about results, results and results.
"No one dares to give some kids a chance, and no one dares experiment for an extended period of time. That’s not a recipe that we should follow. You’ve got to look at the younger ones and the ones you are curious about.”