Qualify for World Cup or you go home, not my mandate: Baxter


Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter and midfielder Dean Furman during a press conference at Fusion Boutique Hotel, Polokwane on 09 November 2017.

POLOKWANE – Stuart Baxter felt that his position as coach of Bafana Bafana is not under threat after South Africa’s  ‘Road to Russia 2018’ hopes ended with a 2-0 defeat at the hands of Senegal at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane on Friday evening.

“My mandate was never about ‘qualify for the World Cup or you go home’. I want to make sure that we’re making progress,” said Baxter in a pitchside post-match interview.

Referring to the match, Baxter said: “It’s difficult for the team and difficult for the home country. We tried to get ourselves back into contention after those back to back losses to Cape Verde. Based on our performance in the first half it was amazing that we went 2-0 down because I thought we were better than them.”

READ: 2018 World Cup qualifiers: Bafana humbled by Senegal

“We didn’t have one class-act that could conjure up something out of nothing. We missed our chances. In the second half, we still created more chances than they did. But it all means nothing as we went down 2-0 and they go to Russia.”

Bafana Bafana will play for pride when they host Senegal in the return leg qualifier in Dakar on Tuesday and Baxter was in two minds over how to approach the game where the result is of mere academic importance.

“I want to look at the log first and see. Do we have a chance to be better than we are? If that’s the case we’ll play our strong side and try to win the game,” said the former Kaizer Chiefs and Supersport United coach.

“I don’t think we had a lack of effort from the players. I may give a chance to a few lads who work very hard in training and haven’t had game time. It’s a dead-rubber. It’s about pride for the shirt and pride for the results of the country. So we will go and do the best we can.”

With Baxter’s appointment off the back of Mamelodi Sundowns’ African Champions League title, a lot was expected of Bafana Bafana, but the squad is simply weaker in areas that it used to have strength and depth, notably in central defence.