JOHANNESBURG – Lucas Radebe doesn’t see any reason why Stuart Baxter should step down if he fails to qualify Bafana Bafana for the Afcon finals in June.
Baxter said earlier this month that he’d willingly vacate the Bafana coaching job if he fails to deliver the national team to the continental showpiece.
In the qualifiers, SA are second in Group B on nine points, trailing leaders Nigeria by one. They require a point against Libya next month to book their tickets to Egypt.
But after failing to collect maximum points at home to Libya and away to Seychelles, does Baxter feel he’s lost his grip on the team?
Radebe is not convinced. The former Leeds United defender believes the coach should continue beyond the qualifiers so as to bring continuity.
“I don’t know his relationship with the management or with the association but he obviously knows why he’s saying stuff like that,” said Radebe. “But it would be disappointing to see him stepping down. I know there’s a lot of expectations, but for me it’s all about the future of football in this country, where it’s not about results but to play well, and have a succession plan.”
His initial assignment was to qualify the team for the Fifa World Cup last year in Russia, but Baxter, 65, failed dismally as they finished bottom of their qualifying group stage for the first time in the country’s history.
Many, including Radebe, have called for the senior team to start introducing youngsters, but the national Under-23 squad haven’t had a coach since the 2016 Rio Olympics. Former coaches Shakes Mashaba and Owen Da Gama have tipped Thabo Senong for the post. Senong recently qualified the SA Under-20s for a second consecutive World Cup.
“For me, immediate results don’t bear any fruits,” Radebe said.
“Yes, it’s great that we can win a game but if we can’t win consecutively then you can’t sustain the success. We want football that will win and achieve well and have a succession plan whereby we’ve built up throughout the squad and not just the senior team, coming from the Under-17s and going up.
You’ll have followed those players to a senior level where they’ll be producing results.”@Mihlalibaleka