Home Opinion and Features Pass the slice of humble pie after Baxter’s Nigeria miracle

Pass the slice of humble pie after Baxter’s Nigeria miracle


After Saturday evening’s historic win against Nigeria, who have previously loomed Goliath-like in the South African football followers’ subconscious, Bafana Bafana now have the licence to crow for all to hear about their 25-year battle to subdue the

Stuart Baxter

It is probably true that most local fans had been pretty worried about the final score in the clash with the Nigerians. 
Of, course this would have been justified on so many fronts, the first of which is that South Africa sort of got their challenge in the Afcon competition started in an offhanded fashion, with the new national coach Stuart Baxter literally being appointed on the eve of this crucial match. Remember that Baxter at some point simultaneously served his club SuperSport United and his temporarily adopted country.
Also, our standing record of performances against the Super Eagles is of an underground material sort that is not freely shared at the favourite watering hole. The less said about that string of bad results the better, was the national motto.
The media also said and wrote many unflattering things about our national side. At some point they referred to us as the four-by-four squad. This was in reference to the frequent four-goal losses we recorded against the Super Eagles and fellow travellers, especially in the early days of our re-admission to the international football arena.
The unkindest cut of this nature came from our neighbours Zimbabwe who spitefully referred to Theodore “Doctor” Khumalo as “Nurse” after they too had stoked four goals into our posts.
Another unkind anecdote is narrated by former national coach Stanley “Screamer” Tshabalala about the tall-as-trees Nigerians meeting our earliest football side in a hotel lift near a tournament venue. 
We are told that the Nigerian players looked at the late Bennet Masinga, who was very much height challenged, and mockingly enquired, from nobody in particular, as to whether he was the ball boy?
To rub salt into the wound, the Nigerians went on to win that encounter without much stress. That’s just how poor we were against the continent’s finest.
So, there you have all the reasons why every local fan has to brag about Saturday’s win. That win over the Super Eagles is historic!
Of course Baxter’s value would have appreciated quite a margin. This columnist for one, has to chow some humble pie after peddling similarly unfavourable views about the British-born coach. 
In view of his latest feat we unreservedly withdraw all the unkind words and thoughts including unwritten reservations we had about Baxter and wish him many more giant-slaying moments in his second stint as the SA national coach. 
We shall henceforth only have kind words to sing about him and his mighty Bafana!
OK, enough of that for now; did you hear what they said about our erstwhile football wonderboy Benni “In the area’’ McCarthy? He is running to be the coach of his hometown’s other professional side. Yes, you heard right, Benni and Cape Town City manager John Comitis may soon decide on a deal that could see the former international football export step into the shoes of Eric Tinkler.
I don’t know about you, but I am shaking at the prospect of Benni taking over the reins at the Citizens. No, no, not for the reasons that you might be thinking, quite the opposite actually. 
With no disrespect to the Cape Town boykie, methinks the side has too much upward momentum at the moment to (how do I put this nicely without giving offence?) risk losing the forward momentum on a relatively inexperienced coach.
Look, the ink has not yet dried on Benni’s international category coaching licence. He just got back from who knows where of late, where his curriculum vitae as a coach did not impress much. Taking the chance on him is like playing Russian roulette with the club’s fortunes. Anyway, if the deal is done, we will have to wish Benni success!