JOHANNESBURG – Stuart Baxter consistently talked about mental strength is his last press conference in the country on Saturday before Bafana Bafana embarked on their long trek from Joburg to Tunisia via Germany.
Baxter left with the locally-based contingent. The overseas-based players along with Orlando Pirates and Mamelodi Sundowns’ players, who were involved in the CAF Champions League in Guinea and Morocco, went straight to Tunis where Bafana will be based until Wednesday.
The following day they will drive to Sfax, the city that will host Bafana’s crucial Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier with Libya.
Baxter and the South African Football Association chose to be based in Tunis due to limited training facilities in Sfax. They will only go to the city for the two training sessions at the match venue.
Bafana need at least a point to book a ticket to Egypt for the Afcon, while the Mediterranean Knights need only a win.
“We definitely have to be stronger mentally,” Baxter said. “But I think that we can (get a result in Tunisia).
“We should base that confidence on the fact that for one year people have struggled to score against us and for one year we haven’t been beaten.
“So now, we want to take that with us and say ‘Right, we think that we’re better. We won’t worry about you.’ If we execute our game plan we have a good chance.”
Bafana will not rest on their laurels or the fact that they need just a point.
“The game plan has to be quite aggressive,” Baxter said. “It has to be with great attention to defending without that impacting our desire to go at them and go for their throat every time we can. We obviously don’t know what they are thinking. They may be thinking, for goodness sake don’t go all gung-ho in the first half hour so they turn us over and score, or they may be very emotional and come flying at us. We’ve got to have a game plan, no matter what they do.”
The two goalkeepers vying for the No1 jersey, Darren Keet and Ronwen Williams, left the country on a high. Williams is high in confidence following his recent displays for SuperSport United. Baxter and the technical team will have a tough choice in deciding who will be in goal on Sunday.
“When we see them at training, see who deals with it best, he’ll get the nod because they’re that close,” Baxter said. “If you look at it generally, Darren is a calmer sort of person but I think that Ronza is capable of a big performance, a really big performance.
But to do that, you’ve got to have the right mental balance. That’s what we are going to look out for in the camp.”