Absa Premiership

Baxter, Hunt remain friends despite ‘disgrace’ comment

2018-08-22 16:50
Gavin Hunt (Supplied)

Cape Town - You might not have expected Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter to describe Gavin Hunt as a friend after the Bidvest Wits coach had blasted the absence of one of his players - namely the up-and-coming Haashim Domingo - from the national squad as "a disgrace."

Indeed, the provocative comment has instead many of the implications associated with the old maxim "with friends like that, who needs enemies?"

Baxter, however, on Tuesday disclosed that Hunt has apologised for what appears an indiscreet outburst, claiming he had made the comment on the spur of the moment following a further impressive performance from the former Vitoria Guimaraes (Portugal) player in a recent Absa Premiership match.

"I've always had a good relationship with Gavin," said Baxter, "and that hasn't changed. It seems he was reacting instinctively to his new signing's good form and had not meant any direct criticism. In fact, he said to me he could not even remember making the disgrace remark."

Nonetheless the intriguing question has now emerged whether Domingo will indeed be included in the Bafana squad when Baxter names the players next Tuesday for the vital African Nations Cup qualifier against Libya at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban on Saturday, September 8.

After the deflating failure to qualify for the recent Soccer World Cup Finals in Russia, it would appear that qualification for next year's African Nations Cup Finals in Cameroon is in the non-negotiable category.

Bafana have already made the ideal start to their AFCON qualifying campaign by beating Nigeria's fancied "Super Eagles" in an away encounter, with two nations from each qualifying group designated to make an appearance among the increased 24 nations who will be heading to Cameroon for the Nations Cup.

But a factor that might be of greater concern to Baxter right now as to whether to include Domingo in his squad or not is the inexplicable failure of SAFA to organise any warm-up games for a fully-fledged Bafana line-up since the failed World Cup qualifying campaign, with international matches in the COSAFA Cup and other insular Southern African events devoid of many of South Africa's top players because the games in question were not recognised by FIFA as part of official tournaments or on dates designated by the world body for international matches.

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