DURBAN, September 4 – Coach Stuart Baxter has defended the addition of his son, Lee, to South Africa’s coaching staff for Saturday’s 2018’s Africa Cup of Nations qualifier fixture against Libya.
Baxter junior has been called up in the wake of goalkeeper-coach Andre Arendse’s withdrawal due to family commitments, but the selection has yielded a suggestion of nepotism.
“I will be massively both disappointed and surprised if there is any reaction whatsoever because Andre pulls out at the very last minute, and Lee is the most qualified goalkeeper coach in this country,” said Baxter senior.
“He has worked with me in Turkey and at SuperSport United. He has also worked with Ronwen Williams. He also knows half the squad in the camp, and we don’t have time to go wandering around the country looking at CVs.
“The only thing we were concerned about was, given their situation, Chiefs would release him or not, but they have been good enough to do that. If anybody sees it as anything else, than the best and viable decision I have had to make, then I would be massively surprised.
“It’s not like I have run out and brought him in the minute he landed in South Africa. It’s not like I am roping him in just as an excuse to have someone I know sitting beside me on the bench. And people will always have opinions. I don’t expect it to be a decision that is attacked by people that understand football. It’s the best decision in a very difficult situation.”
Three other players have pulled out of the squad due to injury. Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane and Bongani Zungu have been sidelined by respective thigh, toe and knee injuries.
Zwane has been replaced by Vincent Pule from Orlando Pirates. Aubrey Modiba from SuperSport United has come in for Zungu. Tiyani Mabunda has stepped in for Mamelodi Sundowns teammate Kekana.
“We didn’t have a good time with players getting injured at the last minute, but when you have been in the game for a long time you realise that anything can happen. Is it a welcome that we wanted? Not at all, but we have to get over it quickly, adjust and adapt,” added Baxter.
“Despite the withdrawals, we have to find a way that we still have enough power in the tank to get three points. I have had my 10 minutes of depression and now I am looking forward to working.”
France-based striker Lebo Mothiba is nursing a hamstring injury, while Dean Furman and Bradley Grobler are minor doubts for Saturday. Meanwhile, England-based midfielder Kamohelo Mokotjo has joined the squad.
“I will have to make a decision on Mothiba, and if he doesn’t make it I will call a local-based player as it will take forever to call up a player from outside the country. But the long and short of it is that I got a text from his club saying he is injured, so that’s where we are at the moment,” concluded Baxter.
– African News Agency (ANA)