Baxter backs Bafana to over­come Sene­gal

The Times (South Africa) - - Sport - By TIYANI WA KA MABASA

● Bafana coach Stu­art Baxter firmly be­lieves that his play­ers are in the right frame of mind for tonight’s cru­cial 2018 World Cup qual­i­fier against Sene­gal at Pe­ter Mok­aba Sta­dium (7pm) in Polok­wane.

It has been a drama-filled week for the na­tional team. Baxter has had to deal with the late ar­rival of the over­seas-based play­ers and Thu­lani Serero’s callup snub.

As if that was not enough, goal­keeper Itume­leng Khune is fac­ing a late fit­ness test to see if he is com­fort­able enough with his fa­cial in­jury to take on the Lions of Teranga.

It also emerged yes­ter­day that cap­tain Thu­lani Hlatshwayo was al­most cer­tainly out of this clash be­cause of a toe in­jury.

“I think peo­ple en­joy [the drama]. You guys en­joy it, be­cause it gives you some­thing to write about and the fans like it be­cause when they are sit­ting at the she­been, they’ve got some­thing to ar­gue about,” Baxter said yes­ter­day.

“The only per­son who doesn’t like it is prob­a­bly me. I’m sit­ting like a preg­nant lady about to give birth,” he said.

But Baxter has backed his charges to do well.

“The only thing that you’ve got to try to do is make sure you have ba­sic fo­cus.

“Keep your­self fo­cused on the here and now, don’t get car­ried away, be­cause what hap­pens when you get all this drama you lose fo­cus on the things that will ac­tu­ally win us the games.

“De­spite all of that, we have still kept our eye on the ball and I think that’s re­ally im­por­tant.”

With that said, Baxter is con­vinced that the play­ers have gone through the “drama” and will be judged solely on per­for­mance against Sene­gal. “I just want to see that we give a true re­flec­tion of what we can do and if they are

“The only thing that you’ve got to do is make sure you have a ba­sic fo­cus”

good enough to beat us, then I will put my hand up. What I don’t want is to give them any­thing be­cause we didn’t keep our eye on the ball,” he added.

Ex­cept for the sus­pended Bon­gani Zungu and Andile Jali, as well as Khune and Hlatshwayo, who are fac­ing late fit­ness tests due to in­juries, Baxter has the rest of the play­ers ready for this must­win en­counter.

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