DURBAN – The South African Football Association (Safa) expects Stuart Baxter to resign from his position as Bafana Bafana coach despite his contract still having three more years to run.
Baxter has called a personal media conference for tomorrow morning in Johannesburg via his agent Steven Kapeluschnik.
The former Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United coach has been out of the country since Bafana’s return from an Africa Cup of Nations tournament where the squad performed beyond expectations by reaching the quarter-finals.
According to a highly ranked source at Safa, Baxter is expected to vacate his position as a coach.
“Baxter is yet to hand in his technical report after the Afcon. Immediately after the tournament he went on a break. We were expecting him to hand in his report as soon he came back into the country from Egypt,” the source explained, adding that it was during the report handover where Baxter would have told his employers what his position is regarding his future.
“That’s where he was going to tell us if he is keen to continue or not. We haven’t spoken to him but we won’t be surprised if he does resign. If we wanted to address something about his future, we would have called a press conference at Safa House.
“The fact that he has called a personal presser, it is a clearly an indication that he is on his way out.”
Kapeluschnik confirmed that they have called the media press conference that is scheduled tomorrow.
“Yes, there’s press conference. I’m not answering those kind of questions (if Baxter is leaving or not). The coach will address the media and that’s why the press conference has been called,” Kapeluschnik said.
Baxter was very tetchy upon his return from the Nations Cup and - emboldened by Bafana’s ‘good’ showing in Egypt - even berated the media and South African fans for being negative toward him and the squad.
Yet while they did reach the quarter-finals, Bafana were far from impressive at the Afcon.
They won a single match by just one goal in the group phase and only went through to the knockout stages as the fourth-best third placed team.
It was only in the victory over hosts Egypt that Bafana showed a semblance of an attacking outfit, their defeat to Nigeria immediately thereafter sending the country’s fans coming back down from cloud nine.
Since he took over for a second spell in charge of the national team, Baxter has struggled to win the fans over - his counter-attacking football generally not appreciated.
The fact that he could not lead Bafana to World Cup qualification for Russia 2018 had many calling for his head. It did not help that Bafana earned their ticket to the biennial, continental showpiece in Egypt by stuttering through a group they were expected to cruise out of - especially after Baxter marked his return to the helm by leading the side to their maiden competitive victory over Nigeria.
Failure to beat lowly Seychelles in their away match and a draw with Libya at home served to alienate Baxter from the fans and the media.
Reaching the Afcon quarter-finals, their poor showing en route there notwithstanding, would normally have improved Baxter’s relations with South Africa.
But it appears to have done the opposite with Baxter expected to call it quits tomorrow.