The Bounce
Doing it for the fans

Should Stuart Baxter's fate hinge on the SA vs Egypt match?


By Thabang Kgeledi @CheezKgeledi

If you don't get severe heart palpitations when watching a Bafana Bafana game you are either (a) not watching the actual match (b) aren't South African or (c) in a medically induced coma.

In the 89th minute of their last group game against Morroco, Bafana conceded a freekick. It was on the right flank, four meters outside their 18-yard area.

*heart rate starts going up*

A right-footed curling ball was played into the box, Thulani Hlatshwayo weak clearing header got only as far as Mbark Boussoufa who duly smacked the ball into the back of the net.


*feeling a pain in my chest*

A few minutes later the referee blew the final whilst.

Game over.

This was Stuart Baxter's mens' second loss in the group stage. They lost their first game 1-0 to Ivory Coast but won their second against Namibia with the same scoreline.

With the new AFCON format introduced this year, South Africa still had a chance of making to the last 16. But, as usual, they needed a few results to go in their favour. Through the grace of God and a little bit of muti (Here is a quick shout out to my sangoma Gogo Katerina), South Africa made it to the knockout stage of the 2019 African Nations Cup. Bafana Bafana will play against the host Egypt at the Cairo International Stadium on Saturday night.

No matter how you feel about Stuart Baxter he managed to lead South Africa to only their second knockout stage qualification in 9 previous tournaments. The last time South Africa made it to the next round in an AFCON was when they were the hosts in 2013 (a time when Justin Timberlake was still relevant) and before that 2002 (a time where Facebook statuses didn't exist).

Many South Africans, including myself, have had a problem with Stuart Baxter's negatively. He seems to be more afraid of losing a game than he is eager to win it. The Brits record as Bafana Bafana after two stints is: 48 played games with 21 fixtures won. That's a 44% win percentage. Below average.

It may only be one game but, I think we should judge Stuart Baxter on how he sets up his team on Saturday evening against Egypt. We can forgive him for being a bit pragmatic in the group stage because even if they finished third, his team would have had a chance to make it to the last-16.

On Saturday, however, we need to see a more enterprising brand of football.

Let's be real, Bafana will probably lose the game. No, I'm not unpatriotic - I'm a realist. Egypt are the better team and Baxter cannot defend 90 minutes and hope to sneak a goal. Should his job hinge on a favourable result?

I don't think so but it should hinge on the performance of his team. I can only think of three games in Baxter second stint as coach of Bafana where, in a must-win game, his team showed initiative. Once against Nigeria and twice against a part-time footballing nation Seychelles.

As South Africans soccer supporters, we know the limitations to our squad. But here is a question I would put to Baxter... Would you rather your team lose 1-0 with a 90th-minute set piece where your team was defending the whole game? Or 3-2 in a game where their abilities where displayed but the better team won on the day?

I for one do not have my hopes up. I have already called my doctor and arranged for some heart medication.

SA vs Egypt kicks off at 9pm (SA time), Saturday the 6th of July. 

Tags: stuart baxter, afcon 2019, egypt vs sa, afcon egypt, bafana bafana, thabang kgeledi


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New Zealand
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