Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says he has been extremely excited about the team’s excellent attitude and energy during the week- long training stint ahead of Saturday’s ‘massive’ clash with the Super Eagles of Nigeria in an Africa Cup of Nations 2019 qualifier in Uyo. Kick off is 17h00 Nigeria time and 18h00 in South Africa).
“The preparations have gone according to expectations. While I could have done with more time, I believe the hours we have put in this past week should suffice. I can’t see anything more I could have done with this group with more time that I have not done,” said a relaxed Baxter, a day before Bafana Bafana take on a resurgent Super Eagles in one of the most hostile stadiums on the African continents.
“Could I have done more than we did already? I don’t think so. You also don’t want to disturb your players with lots of details which might be counter-productive. In short I can say, I am excited, ready and of course a bit nervous.”
The Bafana Bafana mentor says he is aware of the magnitude of Saturday’s game in which both side need a good result to kick start their 2019 AFCON campaign.
“I was watching a few of their players on television on Thursday night. They sounded bullish but at the same time are very uncomfortable. I think we have done a good job, I am excited but of course we get nervous here and there; it’s part of the game,” said Baxter.
The coach said he already had his starting line up in his head but would firm it once the team has had the final training session at the match venue on Friday. He however, insisted the mental approach would be key to the final outcome come Saturday.
“How do you react when things don’t go your way or as planned? Must we panic or react? If we react positively to any situation, we have a good chance of coming out with a solid result,” said the Bafana coach.
“We need to be brave and adapt but never feel inferior,” he said adding it will be a tough match because the hosts have gone for experience and called up most of their top talent.
“Nigeria need to win this one and they would go at us but this is where we need to be smart. If they all pour forward, throw caution to the wind, we need to defend well and then exploit gaps at the back. This is when we need to react smart.”
Bafana Bafana fly home on Sunday and go straight to Rustenburg where they will play Zambia in an international friendly on Tuesday at Moruleng Stadium.