Bafana gear up for COSAFA
The South African men’s senior football team, Bafanan Bafana, are rearing to give their opponents a tough time in the 2018 instalment of The Council of Southern Africa Football associations (COSAFA) which is currently underway in Polokwane, Limpopo.
The South Africans, who assembled in Johannesburg and are now camping in Polokwane, will enter the two-week regional tournament in the quarter final stages on Sunday to clash with the winner of group A because as one of the highest ranked national teams participating at the tournament. Coach Stuart Baxter’s men have been given a bye in the first round.
Baxter’s charges, who mostly featured regularly in the recently concluded South Africa’s elite league only means that the coach managed to pick one of the most exciting squads in the history of the Cosafa tournament.
“This is an interesting, ambitious and very promising group of young players. We need to work on our structure to get them to know each other so that they know the common strategy after that they would be ready to put their own signatures on their own performances” said Baxter.
According to The Briton, with a squad of new young players and a week to prepare it should be easy to get the structure right.
“We are expected to win with one week in training. Getting this kind of squad together and getting seven days is a victory already. If we can meet each other half way it could be a good Cosafa for a change,” said the Briton.
Bafana might play one of African Nations Cup qualifier opponents competing in Group A, Seychelles in the quarterfinal. The other three they might face in the competition are Comoros‚ Madagascar or Mozambique‚ most likely one of the latter two with Mozambique winning on Tuesday night in Seshego to redeem their 2-1 loss to Madagascar in the opening match last Sunday.
“The games have been interesting so far with some of them being physical but I don’t want to go overboard with meticulous examinations of the opponents. We must concentrate on our own strategies this week. No matter whom we play its going to be a tough match,” he said.
The Cosafa will also be an excellent chance for Baxter to scout the Seychelles side‚ who Bafana will play in back-toback African Cup of Nations qualifier match in October and are unlikely to be changed much from the full-strength side they have brought to the Cosafa Cup tournament.
Baxter has hinted to use the tournament to blood new players at senior level‚ hoping to find players ahead of the AFCON tournament this coming September.
“If I had to guess for a team after the two sessions I’ve had. I don’t think there would be one or two players different to the one who starts with the game. Maybe one or two will impress me in the week but I think I have a decent idea now of the starting line-up,” said the mentor.
Meanwhile, Siyanda Xulu will don the armband in the tournament. The former Kaizer Chiefs player who had a stellar recently concluded season at Maritzburg United could not hide his excitement the opportunity to captain the squad.
“It was a very huge surprise when the coach named me the captain. Coming back here is me saying to myself let me just learn new things from the other guys, let me reset my international career. It was me trying to refocus on my game, and the captaincy is not something I really expected,” the player said. Group A league Cosafa standings: