Stuart Baxter named South Africa coach for second time

Stuart Baxter is to take charge of South Africa for a second time, the country’s FA (Safa) has announced.

Safa has reached agreement with Baxter’s current club SuperSport United for the 63-year-old to continue with them until July.

The Briton replaces Ephraim ‘Shakes’ Mashaba, who was sacked last year.

“The coach has the skills to navigate the tough qualification path for the Africa Cup of Nations and the World Cup,” said Safa CEO Dennis Mumble.

“We thank SuperSport United for their support towards the goals of the association and its national teams.”

South Africa’s qualifying groups:
World Cup (after 2 matches) Africa Cup of Nations
Burkina Faso 4 pts Nigeria
South Africa 4 pts Libya
Senegal 3 pts Seychelles
Cape Verde 0 pts

Baxter will continue with SuperSport for the final four fixtures of the Premier Soccer League season and for the Nedbank Cup semi-final on 20 May (and potentially, the final on 24 June).

He will also be in charge of the club’s Confederation Cup group games, which are due to be completed in July.

SuperSport will face TP Mazembe of DR Congo, Guinea’s Horoya and Gabonese side Moumana in the second-tier continental club tournament.

Baxter, who has previously coached South African giants Kaizer Chiefs, will also be given time away from club duties to prepare Bafana Bafana for their opening 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Nigeria on the weekend of 9-11 June.

South Africa’s all-time leading goalscorer Benni McCarthy, who was consulted during the selection process for the coach, thinks the appointment boosts his nation’s chances of qualifying for big tournaments.

“Most definitely yes. He knows all the in-form players,” McCarthy told BBC Sport.

“He’ll make the right decisions and select the right players and he knows what’s expected by the South African public.

“It’s a great appointment,”

SuperSport United’s CEO Stanley Matthews admitted the club were reluctant to allow Baxter to leave.

“We obviously did not want to lose Stuart as our coach,” Matthews said.

“He has done a great job in getting us to the competitive level we expect as a club.

“We also understand that Stuart would like to have a final go at competing at a World Cup and that would be a fantastic achievement for the country as a whole.

“But right now our focus, and that of Stuart’s, has to be on a strong finish to the League, becoming the first club to retain the Nedbank Cup and to fight our way through the group stages of the CAF Confederation Cup.”

Baxter’s first stint in charge of South Africa began in 2004 and he quit a year later after failing to lead Bafana Bafana to the 2006 World Cup finals.

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