Baxter to select 'warriors' for first Bafana squad
JOHANNESBURG - Stuart Baxter finally puts on his Bafana Bafana hat this week, albeit while keeping a close eye on SuperSport United who travel to Gabon for their second CAF Confederation Cup group stages match against CF Mounana without their coach.
“The club and I have agreed that Kaitano (Tembo, assistant coach) will go with the team while I stay here to start preparing for the Nigeria game,” revealed Baxter, who was appointed Bafana coach earlier this month in what is his second stint with the South African national team the Scotsman having held that very post in 2004 and 2005.
Speaking after guiding SuperSport to the final of the Nedbank Cup following a 4-2 penalty shoot-out victory over Chippa United at the Sisa Dukashe Stadium in Mdantsane, Baxter said he’d go through all the video footage and facts gathered on Nigeria so far ahead of Bafana’s crucial trip to Uyo on June 10 for the opening fixture of the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier in Group E, which also includes Libya and Seychelles.
“I have done some work on the squad, their players and I am reading Nigerian newspapers everyday to try and find out what they are thinking,” the coach explained.
“And I want to try and pick a team with a few warriors that can take us to Nigeria and get us a result. “I will be honest and say I haven’t had time because of the commitments here at SuperSport and I have had to tell myself that I will take my SuperSport hat off in the next two days and put on my Bafana hat.
“It is obviously not perfect for our preparation, but I will get the DVD and all of that, break that down, get their last three games and break those down. “We played them a 2-2 game (in November 2014) and I saw that, and I will get that and break that down. I think the important thing is to get the squad right.”
In picking “warriors” Baxter quickly dispelled the notion that he would select the tried and tested in order to beat the Super Eagles in his first official match as national team coach.
“We want to keep an element of development there all the time, and I don’t want to regress. We are going to have to look at players that have come in and ask if we should throw them in the deep end in Nigeria or should he be on the bench, or just in the squad and have a learning curve.
“I think those that are going to have to play are the ones that have been there and done it, but I don’t’ mean we suddenly start bringing back Morgan Gould (34), although he’s been fantastic, but we need players with experience, like Dean Furman for example. Itumeleng Khune will also be important in these sort of games.” Baxter said, while also confirming that he’d already asked the SA Football Association (Safa) to send out letters asking clubs - locally and abroad - if players could report early for Bafana camp given that most leagues wrap up this coming weekend.
Baxter, who is expected to name his Bafana squad on Thursday, added that he’d also done enough work here at home for his current club SuperSport for the challenge they will face in Gabon against Mounana.
“They are away for three days, and I will be at Safa House everyday. When they come back I also go back for the last game of the season (against Platinum Stars on Saturday) because we want to make sure we finish as strong as we can,” the coach said.
SuperSport are in fourth place on the Absa Premiership table.