Baxter said to be top of Safa’s list for the Bafana job

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The South African Football Association (Safa) sacked Mashaba late last year, and Baxter is believed to be the frontrunner for the vacant position

Stuart Baxter is reportedly a strong contender to replace Shakes Mashaba as head coach of Bafana Bafana.

According to Times Media Group, Baxter’s name is being discussed by the South African Football Association, who are waiting for president Danny Jordaan to return from the Africa Cup of Nations tournament in Gabon before announcing Mashaba’s successor.

Several high-profile coaches have been linked with the vacant position at Bafana, including Pitso Mosimane, who ruled himself out of the running on a number of occasions.

Carlos Queiroz, Ruud Krol and Micho Sredojevic have also been mentioned, but TMG reports that Baxter is in pole position to land the job as he understands South African players better. 

The 63-year-old had a stint with Bafana between 2004 and 2005, but it wasn’t a success as he won 10 of his 23 matches with the side, lost seven and drew six. He quit in November 2005 following South Africa’s failure to qualify for the 2006 Fifa World Cup finals in Germany.

Baxter returned to the country in 2012 to coach Kaizer Chiefs. He won two PSL titles, the Nedbank Cup and MTN8 crown during his three-year stay with the club.

The Briton-born mentor left South Africa for Turkey in June 2015, but returned a few months later to take over from Gordon Igesund at SuperSport United.

He masterminded Matsatsantsa’s Nedbank Cup final win over Orlando Pirates, and earlier this season, steered them to the final of the Telkom Knockout Cup where they lost to Cape Town City.

In 2014, Baxter was linked with the technical director job at Safa, but he remained loyal to Amakhosi.

Meanwhile, Baxter's agent Steven Kapeluschnik could not confirm or deny Safa's reported interest in his client, saying the former England under-21 coach is still contracted to SuperSport.

“Stuart has worked with three different national associations in the past and he loves South Africa‚ that’s why he is currently working here (in SA)‚” Kapulschnik said.

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“But he is contracted to SuperSport United and that’s where we stand,” he concluded.

Should Baxter accept the role, his mandate will be to help Bafana Bafana qualify for the 2018 Fifa World Cup in Russia. He would also be required to win as many matches as possible in the upcoming 2019 Afcon qualifying campaign which gets underway in June this year.

It will be interesting to see if Baxter would leave the Tshwane club exactly a year after joining them, especially with his side top of the PSL log going into the second half of the season. 

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