Bafana gear up for COSAFA

African Times - - Front Page - MASHUDU SADIKE

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:

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