POLOKWANE – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has said that their poor start in the 2-0 defeat against Senegal, which shattered their 2018 World Cup dream, was what ultimately cost them the game.
Although they looked to have pulled up their socks for much of the first half, striker Diafra Sakho’s opener in the 12th minute did the early damage.
“I thought the first 10 minutes was everything we didn’t want,” said Baxter after the game at the Peter Mokaba Stadium on Friday night.
“We wanted to be on the front foot and we wanted to show them scant respect. We wanted to tell them in the first minute that we know they’ve got famous players, but we don’t fear you and we want to get at you.
Stuart Baxter: 1st half, it was amazing that we went into halftime 2-0 down as I thought we were better than them #BafanaBafana
“And unfortunately when we got out, we were very negative. We don’t feed balls forward to our front players quickly enough, and we don’t have a good attitude to go forward when we have a chance.
“We did exactly the opposite of what we wanted. I was very pleased with the way we played after going a goal down.”
But right back Thamsanqa Mkhize scored an own goal a few minutes before halftime that all but ended the affair as a contest.
“To go in 2-0 at halftime was… to say it was unfair is probably an understatement,” Baxter explained.
“But that’s what we had. We knew we had to have a go at it. They were smashing things long and hoping one of their (English) Premier League players can get on the end of it and do something special.”
Senegal joined Nigeria and Egypt as Africa’s representatives at next year’s World Cup, with three more spots still remaining for the continent at the global showpiece.