JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter responded to a report by a Sunday tabloid that he was treating midfielder Bongani Zungu “with kid gloves” after it alleged that the French-based midfielder was the ring leader in an emerging drinking culture in the national team.
The Sunday Sun wrote this week that Bafana players went partying on the night the side suffered another humiliating 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde in a World Cup qualifier played at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban about three weeks ago, and that Zungu had initiated what they headlined as a “Bafana bash”.
Baxter, before announcing his 24-man squad to face Burkina Faso on October 7 at the FNB Stadium in another fixture to try and get to Russia next year, confirmed there was an incident at the team hotel, but labelled the reports as wild.
“I want to be as open as I can and put this one to bed. I know there have been reports of bad behaviour and ill-discipline. I can say these are wildly exaggerated and/or inaccurate,” the coach said.
“What doesn’t help is people making up stories that are hugely inaccurate and hugely inflated and missing the mark completely.
“I am going to protect Bongani Zungu because it was totally inaccurate to name him as the ring leader in anything that happened. On a scale of nought to 10, Bongani was involved in two or three. And there were others that were pretty much more. So I will take care of that.
“Bongani I have already taken care of, but you have to understand that his club are contemplating a massive fine, three weeks’ wages.
“They are hugely unhappy reading that one of their players has been a ring leader when he’s not. I don’t think shooting from the hip helps anybody.”