JOHANNESBURG - Following Tuesday’s embarrassing goalless draw against the Seychelles, Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has said there was simply not enough time to prepare for the poor state of the artificial pitch they found at the Stade Linité.
South Africa looked like world beaters in their polished and professional record 6-0 win margin against the same outfit in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier at FNB Stadium on Saturday, but were very much a shadow of themselves as they were forced to share the spoils with the minnows three days later away from home.
“It’s impossible to prepare because we were preparing for a game at FNB. You can’t chop and change and say let’s go to an astro turf. If we trained on an astro turf before the game at FNB and ended up getting caught with our pants down there, people would have said I had gone crazy,” said Baxter on Wednesday.
“We took what we could get. And it’s unfortunate. To be fair, we would have needed a lot of work on that pitch because it was like playing on rubber. If you take two sessions, one on rubber and one on another (standard pitch), you would have been running the risk of injury.
"Secondly, you don’t get the benefit of the speed that you are building to for the game at FNB. We played so well against Seychelles at home because of the preparation – that was important for us. We needed that one first before moving onto the next one.”
Bafana now need three points from the remaining two matches against Nigeria at home on November 17 and Libya away in March next year to qualify for the Afcon. They are currently second in Group E, a point behind leaders Nigeria after four matches. Two teams from each group will book at place in the continental competition after it was extended from 16 teams to 24.