25 June 2019 – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has given his perspective on South Africa’s 1-0 opening AFCON match defeat to Ivory Coast at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo on Monday.
Baxter said apart from a few slip ups and the opening 15 minutes, he thought Bafana Bafana played well and were in the game right up to the end.
“I thought the start of the game, the first 15 minutes we were quite slow in our decision making and in a way we allowed Ivory Coast to come into their rhythm. We were quite poor to translate the ball from the back to the front. I thought when we settled down; we started to move the ball quicker. The rest of the half, we looked promising, I think we dealt with them quite well and it was a lively game.
“Second half the same, I think the heat affected both teams and I think the tempo dropped but I thought we were comfortable in the game and we were playing better football than we did in earlier stages,” said Baxter.
“The goal comes when we have a corner and from transition on our corner, we don’t defend as well as we had to, but I thought we defended spaces behind us well throughout the game.
After they scored I think we made a couple of changes, we got better possession of the ball but didn’t translate that into dangerous and scoring opportunities,” he added.
“We had good situations after playing quite well but we didn’t have strikes at goal and when you do that against a good team and they have a goal in front, you will have problems. So because of lack of strikes at goal, we can’t complain about losing the game but I thought the players put up a good performance and it is a great learning curve for them,” added Baxter.
The Bafana Bafana coach said tactically his side showed and could not blame the team for how they approached the game. He said after changing two players, the reaction of players tactically, was acceptable.
On Ronwen Williams choice ahead of Darren Keet, Baxter said the Premier Soccer League Goalkeeper of the Year was better suited to the Ivory Coast scenario.
“Darren was suited for the Libya game while Ronwen was suited for this particular one. Darren has been a bit inactive and Ronwen reflexes were suited for this game, his shot stopping and distribution were suited for this match and I thought he did very well.”
Bafana Bafana next play Namibia in a COSAFA derby at the same venue on Friday, 28 June 2019.