BAFANA Bafana players have thrown their weight behind under-fire coach Stuart Baxter to carry on with his duties as the national senior team head coach.
Bafana vice-captain Dean Furman and star midfielder Bongani Zungu led the call for the Scottish mentor to be retained as the head of the technical team.
Despite being eliminated in the Africa Cup of Nations quarterfinal stages by the Super Eagles of Nigeria at the on-going tournament in Egypt, the players insist that Baxter is the right man for the job.
Bafana were booted out in the last eight when they suffered a last-minute heart break 2-1 defeat against the 2013 Afcon winners. Bafana earned the respect of the continent when they eliminated host nation Egypt in front of a packed Cairo International Stadium in the round of 16.
Their gusty 1-0 victory over Mo Salah’s Egypt made them a force to be reckoned with on the African continent.
They registered two wins and lost three of their five matches to reach the last eight scoring three goals and conceding four goals.
They qualified for the knockout stages as the fourth best third place finishers, but Bafana were still given a warm welcome by hundreds of fans at the OR Tambo International airport yesterday.
But the future of the former Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United coach, dominated their arrival press conference. Furman, who worked with Baxter at club level with SuperSport where Baxter spent two years as the head coach, said the coach is not given the credit that he deserves.
Furman said: “I’ve known the coach for a long time and know what he is all about.
This man is not given enough credit. I’m speaking on behalf of the players when I say that we hope that he remains as the head coach of Bafana.” Zungu, who scored two goals at the tournament, encored Furman’s sentiment. “He (Baxter) understands us as players and he knows the mentality of South African football.
We would like him to stay as players because he is a good coach.”
It’s clear that the players are fighting in Baxter’s corner, while the nation is divided as to whether the man should be sacked or allowed to remain in his post as a coach.
The heated presser took place in the absence of skipper Thulani Hlatshwayo, who rushed to hospital to be by his side’s wife, who gave birth yesterday.