Baxter backs Bafana to overcome Senegal
● 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.