Stuart Baxter wants to finish off with a trophy at SuperSport United before joining Bafana. Photo: Samuel Shivambu, BackpagePix
JOHANNESBURG – Stuart Baxter says he keeps having to politely ask the people around him to stop talking about giving him a big send-off as SuperSport United coach in the form of successfully defending the Nedbank Cup.

Now that the cat is out of the bag and the Scotsman is returning to the employ of the South African Football Association (Safa) as the new Bafana Bafana coach for a second stint, part of the focus has been about how Baxter will be remembered at SuperSport. 

He admits that he does chase accomplishments, like any one in his position would, but he’d rather that his players, who were so thrown off by the news that Baxter was talking to Safa it derailed their Absa Premiership title ambitions, turn a “good season into a great one”.

SuperSport face Chippa United for the second time this week, albeit at a different venue and in a semi-final of another tournament when they travel to the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, East London today (3pm kickoff), hoping they can overcome a side that thrashed them 3-0 at the Nelson Mandela Bay Stadium on Wednesday.

“My role is to get these players, who I feel have been fantastic this season and worked really hard, to win something at the end of the season. The other day I also had to stop Stan (Matthews, the club chief executive) talking about giving me a big send-off,” Baxter explains. 

“I want to win things yes, but it can easily sound like you are pompous when you start talking about those kinds of things and mentioning yourself all the time.

“Maybe there will be time to reflect on what I’ve done here, but right now, I think these players deserve something. 

“The amount of work they have put in is incredible – between having to play our domestic games and CAF commitments as well, we have had to manage ourselves and fight mental fatigue.”

With only one league match to go before the end of the campaign, SuperSport cannot finish higher than fourth place, where they currently lie, meaning the Nedbank Cup semi-final has become their No 1 priority.

And with Dan Malesela back at Chippa after spending the last four weeks on “special leave” following a decision by chairman Siviwe “Chippa” Mpengesi, who was on the verge of sacking him before having a change of heart and pleading with the coach to return and save the team from the drop, the Chilli Boys are a real threat this afternoon.

They were too hot for SuperSport on Wednesday. “It was exactly what we expected from Chippa, and I don’t think Dan coming back made any difference because we had played them before while he was still there.

“Dan is like me, he is never going to compromise the way he wants to play just because they were in danger of being relegated.

“But we had Keagan Ritchie sent off in the 70th minute and they sort of kicked on from there. And before the match, Kingston (Nkhatha) broke down and we had to bring Fagrie Lakay at the last minute.

“We don’t want to be nonchalant about our CAF games, but the Nedbank Cup is our best chance of getting a trophy,” says Baxter.

Saturday Star

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