Bafana Bafana

Bafana coach to heed Brazil's example

Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - In a revealing first policy statement since being appointed the new Bafana Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter has pointed to Brazil as a guideline to follow in the national team's pursuit to fulfil its potential.

In a nutshell, Baxter stressed at a media briefing this week that while South African players should not stifle or minimise their main asset, the ability to control the ball with consummate poise and ease, there is an essential necessity to maximise this talent with appropriate tactical acumen and overall discipline.

"Brazil learnt this lesson after suffering their mortifying 7-1 World Cup defeat against Germany in the 2014 World Cup semi-final," said the new Bafana coach, "and today they are not only showing they have learnt their lesson speedily and with good effect, but are now back at number one position in FIFA's world rankings."

Basically what Baxter was suggesting is that in world soccer today there is only a good and bad way of playing the game, with the best of the different approaches that were once linked to specific countries now moulded into a single entity.

In Brazil's case there has not only been the confirmation to confirm a degree of discipline to their approach, but also allowing players to return to their roots by freeing them to employ the entire scope of their natural talent and ability to improvise.

It helps, of course, for Brazil to again have players of exceptional talent like Neymar, Dani Alves and Marcelo, probably the two best fullbacks in the world, Willian, Douglas Costa and Coutinho.

Also interesting in this respect is the utilisation of fullbacks Dani Alves and Marcelo as a main attacking component in the Brazilians' repertoire as a counter to ultra-defensive tactics which are currently employed and spreading worldwide.

"The secret," said Baxter, "is to balance attack and defence and base them on the type of talent at your disposal.

Baxter said he believed there was a sufficient pool of talent available to Bafana to look to the future with optimism and satisfy the immediate main objectives of SAFA - as espoused by president Danny Jordaan - for South Africa's national team to qualify for the 2018 World Cup and 2019 African Nations Cup Finals.

"A critical aspect," emphasised the new Bafana coach, "is for the country to unite behind the national team - and not for anyone to go off on a tangent while pursuing personal and often selfish agendas as has happened in the past.

"With this proviso materialising," added Baxter, "I see no reason why Bafana should not become a soccer powerhouse in Africa."

And as to the length of time for what will be Baxter's second tenure as Bafana coach, SAFA CEO Dennis Mumble confirmed the new contract was for a five-year period.

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