Cape Times


- Mihlali Baleka

WITH BAFANA BAFANA’S proposed friendly matches ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations in limbo coach Stuart Baxter remains optimistic his troops will quickly transform from club football mindset to the national team’s requiremen­ts.

Prior to being South Africa’s flag bearers in Egypt, Baxter anticipate­d preliminar­y tests against Nigeria, Ghana, Uganda and Angola. However, since assembling for camp on Sunday, Baxter has been shattered that they’ve only got two confirmed matches against Ghana in Dubai and Angola in Egypt.

A back-up on home soil would be an indoor match tomorrow with one of the teams that were playing in the Cosafa.

“The one at home is a mess. It is because at home, we’ve chopped and changed our dates and that’s one of many reasons which I don’t want to go into,” Baxter said. “There was going to be a game against Zambia but that ended being the game for the Under-23s in their preparatio­ns for Cosafa. Now we didn’t get one, let’s move on and we think we’ve got the one against Angola in Egypt. We’ll play everybody against Angola and we’ll play one-hour against Ghana with a team that’s closer to (being) the starting team.

“We’ll hope that will be enough to get everyone up to speed.

With just over a fortnight before South Africa kicks off their Afcon campaign against Ivory Coast, Baxter hopes his overseas-based players and the locals would have blended.

“They’ve just come back and they need to put their national team hats back on again – they’ve got to think the way we think. Maybe set-play, defending, attacking and how well we use the ball are different. They need to get used to that again. That takes time but they’ve been doing nicely,” said Baxter who will announce his final squad on Sunday.


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