• Do or die for Bafana and Baxter

    Stuart Baxter, coach of Bafana Bafana chats with players during a training session

    The South African public’s interest in Bafana Bafana has noticeable faded over the years, but Stuart Baxter and his team have a chance to take a step towards redemption on Sunday, DEAN WORKMAN explores.

    Baxter took charge of Bafana in May 2017 and has guided his side within one point of qualifying for this year’s African Cup of Nations in Egypt.

    Bafana, however, have endured a somewhat inconsistent qualification campaign after picking up a historic 2-0 win over Nigeria in Uyo in their first game in the qualifying group.

    Despite getting off to the perfect start, Baxter’s chargers then drew 0-0 at home with Libya before smashing the Seychelles 6-0 in Johannesburg.

    Bafana then had a chance to take control of the group, but they inexplicably drew 0-0 to the Island nation of Seychelles, just days after thumping them at the FNB Stadium.

    Baxter’s men then held Nigeria to a 1-1 draw towards the end of 2018, which saw Gernot Rohr’s men secure their qualification for the showpiece event, while Bafana knew they only needed a draw away against Libya to seal their spot for the major tournament.

    On the surface of things there should be a positivity surrounding the side, who have not lost any of their qualification games so far, but the truth is that the South African public are pre-empting more disappointment before it has even happened.

    There has been much talk on social media and in footballing circles ahead of the game in Sfax on Sunday, and much of it has had a negative tone.

    There can be no beating around the bush when assessing the team’s performances in recent years, and their inability to qualify for major tournaments.

    Sunday, however, offers Baxter and his chargers the perfect chance to go and put in a performance filled with character and heart in a bid to start making the fans believe again.

    Should Bafana lose the encounter there will be no where to hide for Baxter, who already has said he could walk away from the job should, but that would only mean another step backwards for the South African national team and their vision for the future.

    Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

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