Absa Premiership

Good news on medical front for Baxter

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

Cape Town - The medical scare, which prompted SuperSport United coach, Stuart Baxter, who is also currently the frontrunner in SAFA's seemingly endless search for a new Bafana Bafana coach, to undergo investigative surgery this week, has been alleviated.

The relieved tidings were confirmed on Friday by SuperSport CEO Stan Matthews, who said Baxter would be back on the club's bench for the Premier League game against Bloemfontein Cetlic after a week's absence.

Matthews, however, was not able to provide similar good news regarding the negotiations that are currently in progress regarding the possibility of Baxter returning for a second stint as the Bafana coach.

"We gave SAFA a week to negotiate a deal with Baxter, who is under contract with SuperSport until next year, with the club also holding an option for an additional period," said Mattews. "But it's now three weeks since we made the gesture and still nothing has happened."

The SuperSport CEO, irritated by the impasse, declared the situation could not carry on endlessly.

"We have a club to run," he added, "and if SAFA have not agreed to the conditions set out by Baxter and SuperSport for the Bafana deal, he will remain with the club in accordance with our contract - and that will be that."

Meanwhile, Owen da Gama, "the good guy" in the six-month, indecisive Bafana coaching fiasco that has lingered on since the dismissal of Shakes Mashaba, fired a strong salvo of his own by declaring he will no longer accept his previously ordained role as assistant coach or continue in the position of caretaker coach under the present inconclusive situation.

Da Gama has received wide praise for the manner in which he has handled the Bafana "hot seat" since taking over from Mashaba on a temporary basis, but now feels he needs to assess  his own future.

"One thing is for certain," he proclaimed. "I will not return to the position of Bafana assistant coach, no matter who is finally chosen as the permanent coach.

"And while I do not want to leave Bafana in the lurch because the welfare of the national team is very close to my heart - and I have formed a close association with the players - I need to come to some sort of concrete agreement with SAFA and know where I stand." 

Da Gama may well feel irked by the proclaimed assessment of SAFA that his presence is urgently required within the Bafana camp because of the need to maintain an element of continuity during the critical year of looming World Cup, CAF Nations Cup and CHAN qualifying matches - yet paradoxically, at the same time, he is not considered for the role as permanent coach.

And with it, the ongoing Bafana coaching merry-go-round saga continues without any conclusion in spite of time running out before the team's next vital undertaking - the tricky away Nations Cup qualifier against Nigeria early in June.