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SA SOCCER NEWS
Baxter to teach and be taught 01/04/04
New Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has stressed his willingness to get to grips with South African soccer culture and has vowed not to impress a European style of play on the national team, according to a report in a leading daily newspaper.

The Englishman, who has coached clubs in Sweden, Portugal and Japan, and was in charge of the England under-19s before signing for South Africa, said he has a lot of knowledge to impart but will also be looking for guidance from local coaches and players.

"What's important is that I have a willingness to learn the South African culture and to find out what will make the players bond. I won't try to impose a foreign style on the players, Baxter is quoted to have said by The Star on Thursday.

"And it won't be one-way traffic. People say I'm going to be teaching, teaching and teaching. That's not true, I'm going to learn as well. I will learn from the local coaches, players and people and, in return, I will impart the knowledge I have and try to do the best I can for the South African game.

Baxter, who claims to have been exposed to South African soccer before, said he was under no illusions about the task ahead of him but urged the South Africa public to be realistic in their expectations.

"I think it would be unfair for people to say 'he doesn't know the name of the Orlando Pirates reserve team centre back, therefore he can't coach us'. South African football is not totally foreign to me, he said. I've coached and scouted around the world for many years now and South Africa's been a market we've looked at for a long time now.

"Players like Stanton Fredericks, Dillon Sheppard, Eric Tinkler, I've watched them play and followed the progress of many South African players.

"In 1996 South Africa were the best team in Africa. Now they went out of the Nations Cup in the first round. We could talk all day about the amount of talent available in South Africa, but all that talent has been there since 1996 and (still) we've gone the wrong way.

"Something's happened, and we have to arrest that. We've got to stop the bleeding and make the patient better.

"The first thing I've got to do is learn, but I know my learning curve has got to be like a rocket. But I've done that before," he added.

Baxter is due to officially take office on April 1.

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