Johannesburg - England-born Stuart Baxter
was officially unveiled as South Africa coach Monday on a five-year contract
and said winning was all that mattered.
Asked at a media conference
in Soweto if he would encourage players to nutmeg opponents in the South
African penalty area, he replied: "No, I would not.
"Winning is of
paramount importance," stressed the 63-year-old as he began a second spell
in charge of "Bafana Bafana" (The Boys).
"Our supporters want
to see winning football with a South African stamp and we have enough quality
players to be very competitive."
Baxter was named coach
earlier this month, but a ceremony to introduce him was delayed because South
African football boss Danny Jordaan was unavailable.
South Africa have become
one of the great underachievers in Africa since making a spectacular return to
international football two decades ago.
An apartheid-induced ban on
the country playing international football was lifted in 1992, and four years
later hosts South Africa won the Africa Cup of Nations.
qualified for the 1998 and 2002 World Cup tournaments, but there has been a
steady decline since.
South Africa did appear at
the 2010 World Cup, but made unwanted history by becoming the first hosts not
to reach the knockout stage.
The country were ranked
12th in Africa and 64th in the world this month and have failed to qualify for
three of the last five Cup of Nations tournaments.
Baxter, who is leaving
Pretoria-based top-flight club SuperSport United to become national coach,
faces five crucial fixtures between June and November.
He goes to Nigeria in June
for a 2019 Cup of Nations matchday 1 qualifier against a country South Africa
have never beaten in a competitive match.
South Africa share the lead
with Burkina Faso in a 2018 World Cup qualifying group after two rounds, one
point above favourites Senegal.
They play Cape Verde home
and away, Burkina Faso at home and Senegal away with only the group winners
going to Russia.
South Africans are sharply
divided over whether Baxter is the right man to transform the national team
into an African force.
His club record in South
Africa is impressive - guiding Kaizer Chiefs to two league titles within three
seasons and turning around struggling SuperSport.
But a previous two-year
stint as South Africa coach from 2004 was uninspiring, and he flopped as
manager of Finland.
Baxter says he
"believes in his ability to coach footballers, bring them together and get
the best out of them".
He succeeds Ephraim
"Shakes" Mashaba, who was fired last December after publicly
criticising senior national football association officials.