Let’s use mi­nor tour­neys for our good, Stu

The Star Early Edition - - SPORT - MATSHELANE MAM­ABOLO

STU­ART BAXTER would love to see the coun­try’s at­ti­tude to­wards ‘lowly’ tour­na­ments such as the Cosafa Cup and the CHAN change for the bet­ter.

And the Bafana Bafana coach is hope­ful that the team’s pro­gres­sion to the next round of the lat­ter event, cour­tesy of their 3-0 ag­gre­gate win over Botswana at the week­end, will help in this re­gard.

“I think the peo­ple have had an ap­a­thetic view of the Cosafa and the CHAN. But where does it fit? “the coach asked af­ter Bafana’s 1-0 sec­ond leg win over the Ze­bras at Moru­leng Sta­dium. “We have never re­ally placed it any­where in our pro­gram, But we are try­ing to create a place for it. What we have tried to do now is to say let’s put it some­where where it serves South African foot­ball.” That ser­vice, as Baxter,

showed through the two-legged clash with South Africa’s neigh­bours, is to pro­vide a plat­form for young play­ers to gain the nec­es­sary ex­pe­ri­ence that will stand them in good stead as they grow into fully-fledged in­ter­na­tion­als par­tic­i­pat­ing in qual­i­fiers and fi­nals of ma­jor tour­na­ments.

“So we are not just pick­ing a ran­dom squad ev­ery time we play. We said let’s rather use it so that when these boys get up they will have ore ex­pe­ri­enced heads. And I think it is work­ing well for the fu­ture,” the coach ex­plained.

He was par­tic­u­larly pleased at how the younger and new play­ers he gave a run in the two legs fared.

“If you look at the younger ones that I knew lit­tle about, Sandile Mthethwa has been im­pres­sive; Sipho Mbule came in and gave a very ma­ture per­for­mance, but I knew him from Su­perS­port United. Tyan Mooh has done well and could have also scored more goals. We also have Jamie Web­ber.”

The key though will be for Safa to keep these young play­ers in the sys­tem in­stead of let­ting them fall by the way­side as in pre­vi­ous years.

And with the squad pro­gress­ing in this com­pe­ti­tion, Baxter has the chance to have a closer look at the play­ers for two more matches. Next up for Bafana will be Zam­bia, who ham­mered Swazi­land 7-0 over­all. The South Africans will host the first leg on the week­end of Au­gust 11, 12, 13 with the re­turn leg sched­uled for the next week­end in Zam­bia.

“The younger ones have thrown their hats in the ring, but are they ready now? No, they are not. But we have Zam­bia now and the young ones will get a cou­ple of in­ter­na­tional games. A few of them threw their hats in the ring, for ex­am­ple, (Siphelele) Nt­shangase is a very tal­ented player that I didn’t know too much about, who I thought: can he move up a level? Can he de­fend? Can he un­der­stand coach­ing, and he an­swered me and said ‘yes I can’. He did a good job. A player like him put his hands up a lit­tle bit and said: ‘hey just re­mem­ber me for the fu­ture, keep an eye out for me’, which I will.”

Of course not all was per­fect and Baxter knows he still has a lot of work on his hands be­fore these young­sters are the fin­ished prod­uct. But at least there is some light and it is thanks to the com­pe­ti­tions the coun­try pre­vi­ously viewed with some dis­re­gard.

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