By MJ Majuru
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter will not travel to Zambia with the squad for the second leg of their 2018 CHAN qualifiers, which will be played on Saturday, at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium in Ndola, Zambia.
Assistant coach Thabo Senong will lead the team to Zambia. He will likely be accompanied to Zambia by former Bafana legend Quinton Fortune who is currently with the SAFA technical team.
Baxter will remain behind to focus his attention on the upcoming 2018 FIFA World Cup qualifiers against Cape Verde in back-to-back clashes. The first match takes place on Friday, September 1 in Cape Verde, with the next fixture four days later (Tuesday, September 5) at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban.
“Because of the difficulties we have had, I have had little time to concentrate on the absolutely vital assignment, and that is the Cape Verde qualifiers. And based on that and also based on the fact that this is about development, I won’t be travelling to Zambia. I am going to use that time to watch some PSL games over the weekend, and prepare for the squad announcement on Monday (August 21),” said Baxter.
“This gives me a couple of days to clear my head, do my analysis and check on players. This is also gives Thabo the chance to take some responsibility as we are talking about development. We have decided this is the best possible way to go.”
“Senong could be assisted by former Bafana Bafana midfielder Quinton Fortune who is in the country to hold talks with the South African Football Association (SAFA) about a possible appointment into Baxter’s technical team.
“One of the staff that will be travelling to Zambia, albeit in a temporary basis, is Quinton Fortune. He arrived yesterday morning (Wednesday, 16 August), and he followed the training session yesterday’s afternoon at the FNB Stadium and will basically attend everything that we do in camp. We are still to decide if he will go with Thabo as an assistant or spectator – just to see how we do things,” added Baxter.
“When the squad gets back, there will be a conversation between him and the association to see if we have found any common ground, and also to check if there is any room for us to bring him on board on a permanent basis. What is happening now is just a matter of the two parties having a look and see of the situation,” added Baxter.
Meanwhile, Ajax Cape Town defender Roscoe Pietersen is the latest player to join Bafana in camp.
His arrival brings to 20 the number of players on national duty.