Englishman Stuart Baxter seems set to be officially confirmed as the new South African national soccer team coach, having agreed to terms with the country’s soccer authorities in what will be a return for the SuperSport United manager.
The South African Football Association (SAFA) has confirmed that the 63-year-old has concluded a deal to coach Bafana Bafana, and all that remains is for the confirmation to be made public via the media.
Baxter coached South Africa between 2004 and 2005 in what was not the most successful of tenures, but has since done well at club level in the country with Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport.
Previous Bafana coach Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba was fired in December following what the football authorities in the country deemed as ‘gross misconduct and violation of the SAFA communications policy’, relating to a public argument with SAFA officials immediately after Bafana’s historic 2-1 World Cup qualifying win over Senegal in Polokwane on November 12.
Bafana created a committee to pour over the applications from both local and international coaches interested in taking charge of the South African national team.
It seemed that the likes of Herve Renard, Carlos Quieroz and Hugo Broos were in contention for the post, but sources at SAFA have now confirmed that Baxter is in line to take the job.
“We’ve finalised everything and pen has been put to paper. The announcement could be tomorrow or any time from now. It’s just a matter of calling you guys [the media] to the official announcement,” SAFA head of communications Dominic Chimhavi said, according to the Sowetan.
The English tactician is currently in charge of South African Premier Soccer League club SuperSport United, and it is unclear whether Baxter will immediately take charge of Bafana, or if his club will demand that he stays with them for the remainder of the season, which runs until the end of May.
Baxter will come into the job focused on qualifying for the 2018 World Cup and the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Bafana is looking good in qualifying for next year’s World Cup after their two games. The home win over Senegal after a draw away to Burkina Faso allowed South Africa to share top spot in Group D with the Stallions on four points, ahead of Cape Verde and Senegal.