Bafana showed resilience coming back from one goal down to snatch a draw via a goal by Percy Tau at the death against Paraguay. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

DURBAN – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was left impressed, but his team’s never-say-die attitude against Paraguay and Nigeria is the same fighting spirit they will need when they visit Libya in a crucial Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in March next year.

Bafana showed resilience coming back from a goal down to snatch a draw at the death against Paraguay at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday, as they shared the Nelson Mandela Challenge with the South Americans.

Percy Tau was the hero for Bafana with his last-gasp equaliser in referee’s optional time. Bafana also came back from behind to earn a point against Nigeria this past weekend in a crunch 2019 Afcon qualifier at FNB Stadium.

Baxter was left with hope after the two matches that they can go away and get the required result against Libya. 

They need to get a point in order to book a place to Afcon in Cameroon next year. 

It won’t be a forgone conclusion, as Bafana will have to fight gallantly to get the desired result in difficult conditions. But stalemates against Nigeria and Paraguay have given Baxter some optimism.

Fabian Balbuena of Paraguay challenged by Tebego Mokoena of South Africa during the 2018 Nelson Mandela Challenge match on Tuesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix
Fabian Balbuena of Paraguay challenged by Tebego Mokoena of South Africa during the 2018 Nelson Mandela Challenge match on Tuesday. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

“We gave away an own goal against Nigeria and we kept on going. We gave away a very poor goal against a team like Paraguay and we kept going.

“Both games we got back to 1-1. We need that sort of spirit in Libya. If you want to say for the occasion, I think Madiba would have been proud of the boys. 

“The way they fought, because that is what he liked. He wanted people to work hard and to earn their money. I think our players did that tonight (Tuesday),” Baxter said.

Bafana have amassed nine points in five Afcon qualifiers. They are second in Group E, but they can still miss out on a place to Cameroon if they lose to Libya in March. 

Libya are on seven points, and they need a victory at all cost to qualify for Afcon 2019. The Super Eagles have already secured their place in Africa’s biggest football showpiece.

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“Going to Libya, what can I take is that we don’t give up. We keep playing. 

“We did make a lot of errors, but that was because of the opponents. They were aggressive, they were pressing, they were keeping good shape and some of the players are not used to thinking that quickly.

“I thought we defended quite well. The spirit is the biggest thing that we take from the game,” Baxter said.

Bafana have to wait for three months to lock horns against Libya, which is a long time without any competitive action. Baxter is looking for them to play a few friendlies in that period.

“We have got to try and arrange some sort of friendly games,” Baxter explained.

@Minenhlecr7


The Mercury

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