After a period of uncertainty, the South Africa Football Association (SAFA) have confirmed the appointment of Stuart Baxter as the coach of the Men’s senior national side the Bafana Bafana.
Baxter will be given time off his duties as coach of Premier League Soccer side Supersport United to concentrate on national team duties as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria in June looms.
This will be Baxter’s second time in charge of Bafana Bafana after he coached the team between 2004 and 2005 before getting the boot.
During that period, he played 23 games, winning 10, losing nine and drawing four games which obviously wasn’t good enough as South Africa failed to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
That World Cup qualifying group had the likes of Ghana (who qualified from the group) DR Congo, Burkina Faso, Uganda and Cape Verde.
Those stats don’t make for good reading as Bafana Bafana struggled against teams like Guatemala and Jamaica which meant the 63-year old’s time at the helm came to an end.
11 years later, Baxter [above] is back in the saddle and will attempt to qualify South Africa for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations and the 2018 FIFA World Cup.
His first major test will be against Nigeria
However since he is the only coach to ever defeat Nigeria ( see bold highlight below) the West Africans would be dumb not to pay special attention to this seasoned gaffer.
10 Oct 1992 Nigeria v South Africa 4-0 FIFA World Cup
16 Jan 1993 South Africa v Nigeria 0-0 FIFA World Cup
10 Feb 2000 Nigeria v South Africa 2-0 Africa Cup of Nations
31 Jan 2004 Nigeria v South Africa 4-0 Africa Cup of Nations
17 Nov 2004 South Africa v Nigeria 2-1 International Friendly
01 Jun 2008 Nigeria v South Africa 2-0 FIFA World Cup
06 Sep 2008 South Africa v Nigeria 0-1 FIFA World Cup
14 Aug 2013 South Africa v Nigeria 0-2 International Friendly
19 Jan 2014 South Africa v Nigeria 1-3 African Nations Championship
10 Sep 2014 South Africa v Nigeria 0-0 Africa Cup of Nations
19 Nov 2014 Nigeria v South Africa 2-2 Africa Cup of Nations
29 Mar 2015 South Africa v Nigeria 1-1 International Friendly
He has grown from that experience of 2014 and will surely be more prepared for the tough task ahead. His tenure at Supersport has seen the team qualify for the group stage of the CAF Confederation Cup.
Baxter has also won two Absa Premiership titles, two Nedbank Cup trophies and an MTN8 trophy with two teams in South Africa, namely Kaizer Chiefs and Supersport United.
This should put him in a good stead to steer the ship this time out. His expansive style of football is typical of the South African way of play.
Baxter isn’t afraid to put out his side to attack the opposition. Supersport United has the fourth highest number of goals in the PSL this season but also knows how to set up his team to defend as Supersport United have only leaked in only 23 goals (the fifth lowest) this term.
He will have a herculean task against a Nigerian team [below] on a resurgence. A team who haven’t lost since Franco-German coach Gernot Rohr took over.
The Super Eagles currently top a tough 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifying group that has Cameroon, Algeria and Zambia and it will a tall ask for Baxter in his first big game in charge.
Bafana Bafana have never beaten Nigerian on their turf before, the best they eked out was a 2-2 draw in Uyo in a 2015 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier when Rantie [below]was the man of the day.
The Super Eagles came from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw but that result was not enough as South Africa edged out Nigeria for a ticket to Equatorial Guinea 2015.
Come June 10, all eyes will be on Uyo to see if Baxter can reproduce the magic of November 2004. One thing is certain it wont be easy.
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