Bax­ter has his eyes on the fu­ture

Bafana coach will use Zam­bia friendly to give the young fringe play­ers who sat out the vic­tory over Nige­ria clash a run

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MAZOLA MOLEFE @su­per­journo

THE WOUNDED Chipolopolo of Zam­bia take on South Africa’s Bafana Bafana at Moru­leng Sta­dium in Pho­keng tonigt with much to prove fol­low­ing a shock de­feat at home against Mozam­bique in their open­ing 2019 Africa Cup of Na­tions (Afcon) qual­i­fier.

But Stu­art Bax­ter’s Bafana are walk­ing with a spring in their step, so much so that the coach has de­cided to rest the side that also de­liv­ered a shock of their own when they beat Nige­ria for the first time in a qualifying match.

Tonight’s clash is a friendly game that bizarrely comes only days fol­low­ing the all-im­por­tant fix­tures for the con­ti­nen­tal com­pe­ti­tion with Bafana hav­ing en­dured an ar­du­ous trip to Nige­ria and back.

The 2-0 score­line out in Uwo meant Bafana had man­aged a dream start on the road to the Afcon in Cameroon in less than two year’s time.

Zam­bia sit bot­tom of Group K af­ter Stan­ley Rat­ifo scored with what was virtually the last kick of the match to hand vis­i­tors Mozam­bique a rare win at the Levy Mwanawasa Sta­dium in Ndola.

Wed­son Nyirenda, the Chipolopolo coach who crit­i­cised his men for lack­ing pas­sion, could be tempted to play his strong­est side as he looks to win back some pride and even buy him­self more time on the job.

“When I came in, the main ob­jec­tive was to re­build the team and that is what we are do­ing. Soon we will have more new faces in the team. To sum it all, I don’t know why there was no pas­sion from my play­ers to­day,” Nyirenda was quoted af­ter the game.

A win against Bafana, who are fresh from slay­ing the Su­per Ea­gles, might go some way in aid­ing that.

Bax­ter has made it clear that he’s cast­ing one eye on to the fu­ture of Bafana and he is willing to stom­ach de­feat if it means all of his 25 play­ers picked for the qual­i­fier away to Nige­ria get a taste of what it’s like to play for the na­tional team with him as the coach.

“We need to see Lorenzo Gordinho, Ri­valdo Coet­zee, Ab­bubaker Mo­bara, Percy Tau, Aubrey Ngoma and Le­bo­gang Phiri play to­gether be­cause that is ul­ti­mately the fu­ture of Bafana,” said Bax­ter. “We need to win games, yes, but we should also fo­cus on build­ing. If we can get that right then we are build­ing some­thing great here.”

Only Tau fea­tured against Nige­ria at the week­end from the names Bax­ter men­tioned, the striker com­ing off the bench for Tokelo Rantie to score the sec­ond goal in the 81st minute. Rantie had bro­ken the dead­lock ear­lier in the sec­ond half. Based solely on the callups for this qual­i­fier, Bax­ter man­aged to get the squad right – an ele­ment of the tried and tested with a youth­ful flavour to it. And he plans to use the Zam­bia game to see if some of the play­ers are ready for in­ter­na­tional foot­ball.

Ngoma was the only player yet to make his de­but in the squad.

Bax­ter also con­firmed that he’d avoid pick­ing the more ex­pe­ri­enced play­ers for next month’s Cosafa Cup, pre­fer­ring to use the bulk of the Un­der-20 play­ers who were re­cently at the World Cup in South Korea. He said he may bring in one or two vet­er­ans to guide the young side. South Africa, who get a bye as de­fend­ing cham­pi­ons, will face an op­po­nent yet to be de­ter­mined in the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Cosafa Cup on July 2 at the Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium in Rusten­burg.

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