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South Africa Finally Names Head Coach after Months of Vetting

The South Africa Football Association (SAFA) has re-named England born Stuart Baxter as Head Coach after a four months vetting process that saw three of its top candidates drop out of contention.

The 63-year-old who previously coached South-Africa’s Pretoria-based top-flight club SuperSport United was considered when plans to lure Carlos Queiroz, Herve Renard, or Hugo Broos all failed to materialize.

The top favorite candidates for the job – Africa Cup of Nations-winning coaches Renard from France and Broos from Belgium – could not agree to terms considering both gaffers still had long-term contracts with their current sides.

SAFA confirmed the news at a media conference and later released an official statement to confirm his appointment.

SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble was the first to comment on the appointment and thanked Super Sports united who was reluctant to let its top man go.

[perfectpullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]”We are pleased to have finally reached an agreement with SuperSport United on the release of coach Baxter,”[/perfectpullquote]

Mumble said.

“The coach has the skills to navigate the tough qualification path for the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup.

“We thank SuperSport United for its support towards the goals of the association and its national team.”

The former midfielder replaces South African local, Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba who was fired following his controversial outburst last December in which he publicly insulted SAFA officials, including president Danny Jordaan after the side’s victory against Senegal.

This will be Baxter’s second run at the side’s top management position having retired in 2005 after failing to take the Bafana Bafana to the World Cup in Germany who played in a rather weak group.

Despite under-achieving on the international stage with Finland and South Africa during his short spells as Head Coach, Baxter’s knowledge and experience with African football are without doubt unquestionable.

He has enjoyed major success on the continent guiding South Africa’s most popular football team Kaizer Chiefs, to an impressive two league titles within his three seasons as the side’s manager.

He later went on to inspire SuperSport United to a surprising South African FA Cup final triumph despite taking over the side late in the season.

Just after the Cup triumph, Baxter went on to lead the side to a record 19 games unbeaten before losing the final three games to end the side’s title ambitions.

Despite losing 5-0 in the league, SuperSpot United is still in contention for the South African Cup and the CAF Confederation Cup, all a testament to Baxter’s capabilities.

He is tasked with a top priority task of leading the side who is currently Group D and co-leaders in the World Cup qualification campaign leading to the 2018 World Cup finals.

They face Cape Verde (twice), Burkina Faso, and Senegal who are all fighting for an automatic World Cup qualification spot that goes to the group leaders.

His immediate task will, however, be a visit from in-form Nigeria in June for an opening round match in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier.

Baxter will be required to first end his season with SuperSport leading the team in the final four fixtures of the South Africa Premier Soccer League season, the Nedbank Cup semi-final on 20 May, and potentially the final on 24 June.

He will also guide them in Confederation Cup group games, where the side will take on TP Mazembe of DR Congo, Guinea’s Horoya and Gabonese side Moumana before turning his full attention to international football.

He will be unveiled next week when SAFA president and CEO return from a FIFA Congress.


Featured Photo: Courtesy of Getty Images

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