12 July 2017 – Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter says the approach to the clash against Botswana in the 2018 African Nations Championship (CHAN) qualifier will be very different from the one used in the recently ended COSAFA Castle Cup tournament.
Baxter selected 21 players for the regional championship and used 19 of them over three matches but says this time things will change slightly.
South Africa takes on Botswana in the first leg of the CHAN qualifiers on Saturday, 15 July 2017.
The match will be played at the Francistown Stadium in Botswana.
Kickoff is at 15h30.
“This one will be a bit more tactical, and by that I mean it will be more about efficiency than looking at just development. We are going there to play solidly without playing defensively, we are going to make sure that we are a constant threat to them and we will make sure that we get a result that brings them to South Africa with us having a chance to put the tie away,” said Baxter.
“But we won’t give away the option to invest time into good young players – it is a bit of a balancing act. You don’t want to go there and lose, at the same time you don’t want to go there and play your strongest and most experienced team where you will walk away with a 1-1 result and not learn anything. But it will bit more tighter than the constant shifting we had at COSAFA because that was a different scenario.”
Bafana Bafana beat Botswana 1-0 in a very physical match in the COSAFA Cup tournament last week in Rustenburg.
“They are going to be passionate because we beat them, I am expecting a physical game. I will be surprised if it is as brutal as the COSAFA Cup fixture, but I foresee an intimidating game where we have to stand up for ourselves and defend the ball by getting the body on the line, or we have to shift that ball quickly so they can’t catch you. I believe we have selected a squad that we think we can up the ante when we bring them back to South Africa,” added Baxter.
The Bafana Bafana mentor says the selected players must seize the opportunity, with most of those in the 23-man squad new to the team.
“If I was a player and was selected into a squad like this, I would see this as a massive bonus for me – I would say let me show that I am worth it, let me show whoever is watching that I am better than what they think and let me make sure that no one sitting out there says he is only in because so and so is not in. They have a massive motivation to put themselves on the line,” says Baxter.
Meanwhile defender Mothobi Mvala missed training on Tuesday as he was nursing a knee injury, while midfielder Lehlogonolo Masalesa was rested in the second training session of the day after complaining of a painful ankle.
Both are under the watchful eye of the Bafana Bafana medical team.
Bafana Bafana depart for Botswana on Thursday, 13 July.
The return leg between the two nations will be played at the Moruleng Stadium in the North West Province on Saturday, 22 July 2017.
Kickoff is at 15h00.