Bafana Bafana’s coach is still enjoying the status of ‘man-of-the-moment’ following his spectacular plot that broke the jinx that had afflicted South Africa in previous encounters with Super Eagles.
Coincidentally, he was the handler of the team when Bafana Bafana beat Nigeria in a Mandela Challenge contest 14 years ago at Ellis Park, in Johannesburg. He told Times Live in South Africa that he had never received as much text messages in his life as he did after his team beat Nigeria last Saturday.
This is reverse to what he experienced when he was fired in his first spell after he failed to qualify South Africa to Egypt 2006 Africa Cup of Nations.
He said even though he had just four days of camping as against the three weeks the Super Eagles had, he had to resort to intelligent gathering and consultations with relevant people who could help out.
He contracted Manchester United scouts to gather credible intelligent reports on the Super Eagles as they trained and played two friendly matches in France.
Baxter had ticked just about every box in his preparations since being appointed just over a month ago.
He selected a strong‚ well thought-out squad. He called Thulani Serero to explain the marginalised Ajax Amsterdam player’s omission.
He called Hunt for advice on his squad. Hear what he told the South African media: “We’ve had injury scares left‚ right and centre. We had to back off one of the trainings (on arrival in Uyo on Thursday) because the trip was too long and arduous.
“And I don’t know if it took us a bit of time to get into our stride‚ or if you just expect a storm in the first 20 minutes – I don’t know if it was us or Nigeria.
“But it just felt that after about 20 minutes the crowd went down‚ Nigeria started making mistakes‚ and we opened the pitch better. And once we started opening the pitch‚ then we started getting our players on the ball‚ doing things on the ball.
“Once the defending led to attacking play‚ I thought we dominated the game. We hit the post twice.
“The other reason I’m delighted is that you know that if you have a disappointing result‚ then straight away people are saying‚ ‘Ah well‚ you see. He’s good at club level but he’s failing again. So absolutely delighted.”