Stuart Baxter takes charge during a recent training session. Photo: Sydney Mahlangu /BackpagePix

UYO, Nigeria – Bafana Bafana’s four training sessions in South Africa prior to them leaving for Nigeria proved to be quite essential after coach Stuart Baxter opted for a light workout upon arrival at their base here in Uyo on Thursday.

The team landed in Lagos a day earlier, but only at 8pm local time when there were no more flights to Uyo, which is about an hour on the plane. As a result team manger Barney Kujane had long made arrangements for Bafana to overnight at the Sheraton Hotel and depart for Uyo the next morning.

South African face the Super Eagles of Nigeria on Saturday in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opening qualifier at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium.

“How do you guys feel after the amount of time we have spent travelling? Tired, right? Well, so do the players,” Baxter said to three journalists on the road with the national team.

The coach was keen to make it to the match venue, but given that it was yet another 45 minute drive from their hotel in Uyo, he felt he’d rather settle for a light session using the small pitches nearby.

“It’s not ideal, but I don’t want to break the spirit and that bite I saw in South Africa. I want to keep them fired up instead of spending 45 minutes to the grounds and 45 minutes back after the hours we have spent travelling,” said Baxter.

“It’s worth the sacrifice. I will work on set pieces and then sit them down for a video session later. Then only (on Friday) will we go to the stadium for a full training session.”

Independent Media

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