2 July 2019 – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says his players played their guts out despite losing 1-0 in the dying minutes to Morocco on Monday, 1 July at Al Salam Stadium which left the team’s qualification to the knock out stage hanging in the balance.
With the match headed for what could have been a credible draw, Morocco’s Mubarak sneaked into the box to stab the ball home from close range following a debatable free kick deep inside Bafana Bafana area.
Until then, the two teams had looked closely balanced and a point could have taken South Africa into the last 16.
Coach Baxter however said criticising his players would be disingenuous after they put up a spirited performance for most of the 90 minutes.
“I think the players played well in terms of their distances, in terms of their pressing and defending process,” he said adding that a lapse of concentration resulted in the goal.
“And we had also situations and we could have played better in the last third. There are many ways to win in football game but losing in the last 30 seconds of the game from a set play, I think it is a disappointing way to lose a game,” said Baxter.
“I don’t think it is the time for me to question players, it is time to accept that this is the result we didn’t want but there are many ways to win a game of football,” he said adding that once the dust has settled, the team will do a sober analysis.
“It is very easy for the coach in your disappointment of the result to say things immediately after the game that you don’t really can’t back up with facts. I told them (players) we would look into this game when we have all calmed down, when we are realistic and evaluate what we could have done better. We would do that when we have calmed down.
“I think the players were disciplined and it is unfortunate that we conceded a goal in the very last minute. I thought the opposition played better in the second half, their ball retention was better, there balance was better. I thought we dealt quite well with it but they are a strong team and they will be one of the top teams in the tournament,” he added.
The final teams to qualify for the Group stages will be determined after tonight’s last group of matches.