JOHANNESBURG – Bafana Bafana will need to be quick in their transition play, while also putting their bodies on the line to protect the ball, if they are to come away victorious in their 2018 African Nations Championship (Chan) qualifier clash against Botswana in Francistown today (kick-off 3.30pm).
This is the view of coach Stuart Baxter who says the side will really need to apply themselves, if they are to return home with full points going into the second round, second leg meeting to be played in a week’s time back in South Africa.
During their training camp this past week, Baxter added more emphasis on their quick transition play, which might see them hurting the Zebras for a second time in a space of two weeks, after having outclassed them in a 2-0 Cosafa Plate semi-final win at Moruleng Stadium a week ago.
“It was a very physical game,” Baxter said of that 2-0 win.
“And now I’m expecting a bruising battle (in today’s match). Like I said before, we are going to have to protect ball with our physicality, while shifting quickly with the ball to avoid being turned over.
“It’s bit more like the Champions League; the game will be played over two legs and we just need to make sure that we come back home with a positive result.
“If you are on the ball,” Baxter added. “And somebody is trying to kick you, you’ve got to either put you body on the line, or shift it as quickly as you can and let him know that he can't even catch your shadow.
“Hopefully we’ll be able to do both of those things. We’ve got to be able to stick up for ourselves at the right time. We cannot be jumping out of the way each time they are on us. Hopefully we’ll move the ball more quickly in between and behind them as well.”
Meanwhile, the 63-year old Scotsman stated that it was imperative for South Africa to use tournaments such as the Cosafa Cup and Chan to widen the pool of Bafana players, while also instilling a specific style of play that all of South Africans will be proud of in the future.
“Every squad that we’ve had, both for the Nigeria (2019 Afcon) qualifier game and the Cosafa Cup (tournament), we’ve made a couple of presentations to them, making them aware what was expected of them if they were going to be regular Bafana players,” Baxter said.
“We’ve done the same thing in our tactical sessions as well. We made them aware of how we want to play as the senior national team. And a part of that is by saying to them this is what we feel could be an attractive but efficient South African football style of play. We have to make a call on that.
"I don’t think anybody in this country wants me to be coaching kicking the ball down the channel and just chasing after it. But the South Africans want a mobile, technical and imaginative type of football. My challenge, if we are going to have that sort of football, is how are we also going to make it a winning football as well?
“It’s no longer about just winning one game but more about forging a sword that will cut through opposition teams for years to come. We don't want to be just a little dagger that might hurt somebody today, and then they come back next time with a big cannon.”