Bafana Bafana

Baxter takes Da Gama off Bafana’s bench

2017-05-28 09:00
OUT IN THE COLD: Owen Da Gama has no place in Baxter’s technical team. (Anesh Debiky, Gallo Images)

Johannesburg - Owen Da Gama’s tenure as Bafana Bafana assistant coach is over.

This was revealed by new Bafana coach Stuart Baxter, who said the decision was nothing personal.

The Englishman said that it went without saying that no one would want to work with “someone who has been there.

Preferred candidates

“I have nothing personal or any malice towards Owen. It would not be right for me to have the person who was on the job before me as my assistant,” said Baxter.

“When Louis van Gaal got to Manchester [United], he did not say he wanted to work with David [Moyes], and I don’t think that, if Pitso [Mosimane] went to SuperSport, he would say he wants to work with Stuart. That’s football and I wouldn’t have a person who was there to be my assistant – that’s a professional life”.

Baxter said he would give his list of preferred candidates to the South African Football Association and take it from there.

The names of Steve Komphela and Roger De Sá have been bandied about as possible prospects.

Baxter did not rule them out, saying he wanted an experienced assistant who would also double as a scout.

“I’d say yes to all the names you mention. We can throw a lot of names in. Yes, I would consider Steve if he was available, but he has a contract with Chiefs”.

The two worked together in 2004 and 2005 before Baxter resigned as the national team’s coach.

Goalkeeper coach

He said he had received calls from people who wanted to join his technical team, but none from agents who wanted to push their players through.

“I’d be lying if I said it didn’t happen before when I was here”, said Baxter.

Young Thabo Senong, coach of the Under-20s, might still be roped in as one of the assistants in the new-look technical team.

Baxter also did not rule out the possibility of having his son Lee as a goalkeeper coach.

The two worked together at SuperSport United before Lee left last year.

Baxter, however, said his son’s appointment, if it happened, would have to be on merit.

“I will appoint the best man for the best price. The goalkeeper coach will be appointed on merit, not because he is my son.

“If I did that, it’d be an enormous crime against my job. It must be the ambition of the association to get the best depending on the budget and availability. Why can’t I look at a goalkeeper coach who has all the qualifications and a knowledge of South African football? In principle, I should consider him because he is a top goalkeeper coach. But I’d feel insulted if people said he got the job because he is my son. He worked for nine years before I offered him a job”.

Baxter also wants to forge relationships with premiership coaches to help grow the national team.

Know where mines are

He said he would have workshops with various coaches to talk about the state of football in the country.

“We need to bridge the gap that is there because we need each other. But it won’t be a situation whereby I am sitting there like a teacher – I need to get coaches talking about things like how to defend set pieces in the country”.

He reckoned he was more prepared now than he was with Bafana more than a decade ago.

“It’s like walking into a minefield, but now I know where the mines are. I have been there before and that will help me negotiate my way through”.

He was quick to say he would not stifle the players and would let them express themselves.

“Anybody who thinks that I will be a coach who is going to stifle or suffocate a free-playing spirit should have no fear – that won’t happen.

“What I want to do is define that and make it efficient. I don’t want a pretty team that loses all the time. We have to be mobile, tactically smart, quick and use our skill as a weapon, not as a suicidal style of play.”

Baxter is hoping to begin work with most of the players as early as Thursday.

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