Stuart Baxter watches over a training session at the Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

POLOKWANE – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says his charges will have to be at their best against Madagascar in their Cosafa Cup quarterfinal clash at New Peter Mokaba Stadium  in Polokwane on Sunday.

The islanders finished top of Group A to set up a date with the South Africans who begin the tournament in the last eight as one of the seeded teams.

Madagascar topped the group with seven points – just one ahead of second-placed Mozambique, who defeated the Seychelles in the other Group A clash on Thursday.

Baxter and his assistant, Molefi Ntseki, were at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium and watching as the Malagasy booked their place in the last eight.

“They have very good players, and also very technical,” Baxter said after the match.

"They play very quickly and tackle very quickly so we have to take a lot of care with our ball possession, and also pay a lot of attention to our defending – especially in one v one situations so we don’t get dominated physically.

“They are very speedy, and as such they turn the ball very often so our transitions will be very important as well.”

This will be the fourth match in seven days for Madagascar, while Bafana will playing their first game of the tournament.

“We have played a little friendly game and a little 11 v 11, that’s what my team has played together and the first game will be probably the most difficult for us because we have to play, get together and gel a little bit,” said Baxter.

"So it’s a difficult game in a lot of ways, but it is one I think the boys can handle based on what I have seen of the squad, and I am hopeful we can deal with this one and then the tournament opens us for us.

The two nations have met five times – with four wins for South Africa, with just one drawn match.

The winner of the match will face the victor of the quarterfinal clash between Zambia and Namibia in the last four.

The semifinal will take place on Wednesday, at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium.

African News Agency (ANA)

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