Englishman Baxter resigns as coach of South Africa

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 02: during the South African national soccer team press conference at SAFA House on May 02, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)
JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY 02: during the South African national soccer team press conference at SAFA House on May 02, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images)

Stuart Baxter on Friday resigned from his position as coach of South Africa’s Bafana Bafana, the country’s senior male national football team.

Baxter said he felt the time was right to move on with a new cycle of Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) and FIFA World Cup qualifiers looming.

His decision comes just weeks after South Africa reached the quarter-finals of the Cup of Nations in Egypt, bundling out the hosts in the last 16.

It was a second spell in charge of South Africa for the Englishman, who turns 66 later this month.

He was first appointed in 2004 with an eye on the 2010 FIFA World Cup, which the country was to host.

However, after blowing a strong position in the 2006 FIFA World Cup qualifiers and failing to reach the finals in Germany, Baxter left the job.

“I’ve spent a lot of time reflecting on the 2019 AFCON,” he told a news conference.

“Going to AFCON, this squad had not lost in a year, something that was not easy considering we were introducing new players.

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“I feel it’s time for someone else to take over and I have decided to resign from my position. It is my personal decision.

“I’ve chosen not to point fingers and I will refrain from that. Choosing not to answer some misleading media coverage is something that’s also hard to do.”

After leaving South Africa the first time, Baxter went on to coach Finland.

He returned to South Africa to win two league titles with popular Soweto club Kaizer Chiefs before taking the national team post in 2017 for the second time.

The Englishman again missed out on World Cup qualification after being in a good position.

However, he led the team to the Cup of Nations in Egypt, where they scraped through to the knockout stage in spite of losing two of their three opening round matches.

South Africa upset Egypt 1-0, only to lose after a goalkeeping blunder in the last minute to Nigeria in the quarter-finals.

Read also: FIFA approves Women’s World Cup expansion to 32 teams

Baxter won 14 of 30 matches in his second stint, drawing six and losing 10.

Overall his record with South Africa was 23 victories, 13 draws and 16 losses in 52 games.

Baxter is now the ninth coach to leave his job following the AFCON finals last month.

He follows eight other coaches in either quitting, coming to the end of their contracts or being fired.

The eight of them are Clarence Seedorf (Cameroon), Javier Aguirre (Egypt), Paul Put (Guinea), Herve Renard (Morocco), Ricardo Mannetti (Namibia), Emanuel Amunike (Tanzania), Sebastien Desabre (Uganda) and Sunday Chidzambwa of Zimbabwe.

(Reuters/NAN)

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