It’s been a hectic Period for us with the away /home games in Polokwane and I also had a trip to Hong Kong and back during a 36 hour period. Now back in Joburg I have time to reflect on two good wins , a successful trip to Asia and a poor national team defeat to Zambia.
Our wins on the road v Golden Arrows 3-0 and Supersport 2-1 were well deserved and at times we played very well, still too unfocused at times but maybe I am chasing an impossible dream here in Africa if I want more; and perhaps I shouldn’t or I may risk locking up their natural creative problem solving skills. The Supersport second half was an excellent performance, controlling our opponents well, making quick transitions to threaten the space behind them and when we had to playing quickly in front of them and between them to get a strike off. Good stuff and everyone was pleased as Supersport are a top team who were also undefeated going into the game.
The issue of security in South Africa took on a new dimension during our 8 day road trip to Polokwane though beginning with the bus trip there. We have a rather enthusiastic driver, in Sweden I think you would call him a ”tok f*n” so put that together with poor suspension on the bus and the roads 3 hours from Joburg that are full of holes, then you can imagine that the most risky place to be was in the buses toilet. One of our players was thrown against the door and almost broke his nose when the driver swerved hard whist overtaking and it looked like the other players had stopped using the onboard toilet for fear of injury. When we arrived at our very nice hotel, on a game reserve, we were shown to our rooms between the golf course and the reserve.
So far so good! It wasn’t as much fun however when at the crack of dawn we were awoken by a lion calling the pack to hunt with a bone rattling roar bringing out total panic in every other animal within 3 km. The noise was enough to make you long for the relative safety of the buses toilet! It soon settled though after the unlucky target of the kill was brought down and the lions were not hungry anymore . At least everyone was up for an early breakfast though and let me tell you I had no problems keeping the lads in the hotel but some clean sheets were needed.
After two good performances we had five in the Bafana squad to face Zambia, strangely only two started, but I was thankful , hoping that this would see our players not getting injured. What I didn’t know was that one was injured getting off the bus so when Bernard Parker went off limping at half time it meant we would still have problems for our game on Tuesday 20 Nov. The game was a major disappointment as it was the Nelson Mandela challenge and a prestige warm up for AFCON . Zambia won 1-0 and Bafana were poor. The supporters wanted to show their disapproval when the team bus left after the game and showered the bus with stones breaking the glass and injuring a couple of players. Wow ! I hear you say Baxters having some bad luck. It would of been a traumatic experience for my lads , but luckily enough the supporters were so pissed that they stoned the wrong bus and so the Zambians took the punishment. FIFA will no doubt have a word and even though it may sound selfish , I’m glad my lot got out in one piece.
They talk about security in SA but nobody can prepare you for this stuff.
Tot sins (Afrikaans for till next time……)
Förre HIF-tränaren Stuart Baxter bloggar här på Alltid Fullsatt om sitt liv som coach för serieledarna Kaizer Chiefs i Sydafrika. Läs hans tidigare inlägg här!