JOHANNESBURG – With the South African Football Association still battling to find a suitable candidate for the vacant Bafana Bafana post, it was revealed on Thursday that the organisation has approached Stuart Baxter.
Premier League outfit SuperSport United said in a statement that Baxter, who has been with the club since January last year, has been granted permission to “engage” Safa on possibly taking over as Shakes Mashaba’s successor. Mashaba was sacked three months ago for gross misconduct, insubordination and violating the association’s communication policy.
Safa has made heavy work of hiring a replacement, with Carlos Queiroz, Herve Renard and Hugo Broos all linked to the unoccupied Bafana hot seat for the past several weeks now.
“SuperSport United FC has given permission to the South African Football Association to engage its head coach Stuart Baxter with a view to him becoming the head coach of Bafana Bafana,” read the statement.
While it appears Baxter, who is looking for his third Premier League title after winning the championship twice with Kaizer Chiefs in 2013 and 2015, is keen on a return to the South African national team after a failed stint between 2004 and 2005, his current club said it would only allow him to depart at the end of the season.
“If negotiations between Safa and Mr Baxter are successful, and SuperSport United and Safa agree on an early termination of Mr. Baxter's current contract, such an appointment would only be effective at the end of the current PSL season, officially commencing 1 July 2017,” the brief statement read further.
Safa is running behind schedule on the announcement of a coach after previously saying that Bafana would have a head coach at the end of February. A month later there seems to be no end to the tough search.
Caretaker coach Owen da Gama also put his name in the hat for consideration on Tuesday night after Bafana’s goalless draw against Angola in East London. The stalemate followed an impressive 3-1 win over Guinea-Bissau in Durban three days earlier, one which gave Da Gama confidence, it seems, that he can do the job.
Bafana being their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers in June with an away trip to Nigeria, but if Baxter does agree to take over, it will only be prior to the back-to-back 2018 World Cup qualifier against Cape Verde in August and September. Safa would then have to find an interim coach or allow Da Gama to continue in his current role as caretaker.