Stuart Baxter says his Bafana Bafana team are looking “as good as it possibly can look at this stage” after watching them beat AmaZulu 2-0 in a training match on Wednesday.
Orlando Pirates winger Vincent Pule and SuperSport United striker Bradley Grobler scored the goals in a match that was played in two 30-minute halves at the Princess Magogo Stadium in KwaMashu.
The South Africans are preparing for Saturday’s African Cup of Nations qualifier against Libya at the Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban (3pm kickoff), and Baxter is pleased with how things are going.
The Bafana mentor has had a tough week up to now, with four players withdrawing due to injury – Hlompho Kekana, Themba Zwane, Bongani Zungu and Lebo Mothiba have been replaced by Tiyani Mabunda, Aubrey Modiba, Mxolisi Macuphu and Pule.
Baxter has also had to deal with the controversy surrounding his decision to bring in his son Lee as the stand-in goalkeeper coach after Andre Arendse was unavailable.
“We asked Cavin (Johnson, the AmaZulu coach) if he could play deep in one half, so we had to pick our way through, and in the other one, they could come out and have a go at us so that we could use our mobility on transition,” Baxter said.
“It was useful. There was some disjointed stuff, because they are all new to each other – these players. But there was some very good stuff as well. So now it’s about building on that good stuff.”
Baxter said integrating all the new players who arrived late in camp was difficult in an international week.
“You’ve got five days, and sometimes the players don’t know each other or the opponents. So they have to grasp a bit of the game plan and say ‘We can do that’. I think it looks okay – as good as it possibly can look at this stage,” he said.
“We trained for one hour before – the game wasn’t the training. We got through four or five times when they were sort of parking the bus.
“We will emphasise what we think we are good at. I think our structure wasn’t bad. Tomorrow we will be at the stadium to work on a couple of these things, and do set-plays in the afternoon. The day before the game, we want to get into a nice mental space.”@ashfakmohamed