Bafana’s Baxter wants to pool all his re­sources

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MO­HAU RAMASHIDJA

BAFANA BAFANA will need to start in­tro­duc­ing new faces in their squad, es­pe­cially in their friendly matches, if they are to widen their pool of se­lec­tion for the se­nior national team.

This is the view of Bafana coach, Stuart Baxter.

Such an ob­ser­va­tion came about right af­ter Baxter watched how na­tions such as Chile and Ger­many, who are cur­rently par­tic­i­pat­ing in this year’s Fifa Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup tour­na­ment, in­tro­duced fresh faces in their re­spec­tive squads.

“What I found very in­ter­est­ing is how the coaches in the Con­fed­er­a­tions Cup use the tour­na­ment to in­tro­duce some new and younger play­ers in their re­spec­tive squads,” the 63-year-old Scots­man said fol­low­ing Su­per­Sport United’s 0-0 draw against TP Mazembe on Tues­day night.

“Like in that Ger­man squad, there were about four or five play­ers that I’ve never heard of be­fore. And if we were to talk about our de­vel­op­ment pro­gram as a national team, we should stop play­ing our best team against national sides who are ex­per­i­ment­ing with new com­bi­na­tions in their re­spec­tive squads. That’s why we end up win­ning those friendly matches but strug­gle in key matches or tour­na­ments. We need to start us­ing our friendly matches to deepen the pool of our se­lec­tion so that when it comes to a game like Burk­ina Faso (a 2018 Fifa World Cup qual­i­fier), we’ve got five or six ex­tra play­ers.

“Brazil have done the same, Ar­gentina have done the same, Chile had Alex Sanchez on the bench. It’s an in­ter­est­ing de­vel­op­ment path that I truly be­lieve we should look at, re­ally.”

Fol­low­ing this week­end’s Nedbank Cup fi­nal against Or­lando Pi­rates at Moses Mab­hida Sta­dium in his last game as Mat­sat­santsa’s head coach, Baxter will also hope to in­spire his Bafana side to de­fend their Cosafa Cup ti­tle out in Rusten­burg early next month. Bafana will ei­ther lock horns with Malawi, Tan­za­nia, Mau­ri­tius or An­gola in their quar­ter-fi­nal fix­ture next week Sun­day out in Royal Bafo­keng Sta­dium.

This is where the Bafana coach is most likely to play around with new com­bi­na­tions and give young and hun­gry play­ers, such as Te­boho Mokoena, Mot­jeka Madisha, Aubrey Modiba and Percy Tau, who scored the sec­ond goal in that 2-0 vic­tory over Nige­ria in a 2019 Af­con qual­i­fier, a shot at be­ing reg­u­lars when it comes to fu­ture Bafana call-ups.

Mean­while, TP Mazembe’s as­sis­tant coach, David Mwakasu, ex­pressed his dis­ap­point­ment of hav­ing played to a 0-0 draw against United on Tues­day night.

“Su­per­Sport is a very good side and I do be­lieve that they do stand a very good chance of mak­ing it to the fi­nal stages of this com­pe­ti­tion,” Mwakasu said.

“They al­ways play to come out with a win­ning re­sult each time they are away from home. They might do that when they play Horoya in a few weeks time. How­ever, look­ing at our side, we re­ally want to reach the fi­nal stages of this com­pe­ti­tion as well. Our main aim is to make sure that we keep the legacy of TP Mazembe go­ing (by fight­ing to de­fend­ing their Caf Con­fed­er­a­tion Cup ti­tle).”

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