Stuart Baxter’s appointment to the South African national side has been greeted with a mixed reaction but many believe his experience in local football will bring him success.
The Scot was officially named as the new Bafana Bafana coach on Thursday by the South African Football Association (Safa). The post has been vacant since Ephraim “Shakes” Mashaba was fired last December for gross misconduct. This will be his second stint in charge after managing the side between 2004 and 2005 – a reign notorious for the team’s failure to qualify for the 2006 World Cup.
Safa technical director, and former Bafana player, Neil Tovey, however, believes things will be different this time around.
“He has become wiser second time around. The first time around, coach Baxter might not have known South African scenarios like he does now,” Tovey told EWN.
“Certainly in a country for a long time, he has been very successful and there’s no doubt about his football knowledge.”
Baxter now has years of coaching experience in the Premier Soccer League under his belt, first under Kaizer Chiefs and then SuperSport United.
Legendary striker Phil Masinga echoed Tovey’s sentiment.
“Definitely, I think now he has a better background of the South African football and he has got more knowledge about the players,” Masinga told Goal.com
“He has coached at club level in this country at one of the biggest teams in the country, Kaizer Chiefs. He was successful with them. He came to SuperSport when they were struggling and he has given us a competitive SuperSport side that’s hard to beat.”
“I still believe with the experience that he has had in the country, there’s a lot that he can offer the country.”
Baxter will remain at current club SuperSport United until the end of the season and former Kaizer Chiefs assistant coach Farouk Khan believes his experience in South African football means the balancing act won’t be an issue.
“The process was lengthy, but we hope this is the right man for the job,” Khan said. “I think Baxter’s knowledge of SA football gives him an advantage because the arrangement of him being at SuperSport until the end of the season and only then trying to prepare for the Nigeria game would be a disaster. He needs good people around him this time to succeed.”