JOHANNESBURG – Stuart Baxter yesterday named yet another strong and consistent team, even with several new faces, for the national team’s back-to-back 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifiers against minnows The Seychelles.
But can we expect results fitting of the make-up of this 24-man squad?
That will be the question as Baxter returns to the spotlight next week, first with a home game against Group E’s bottom dwellers before travelling to the Stade Linité for the return leg.
Nonetheless, with four points from two matches thus far, six points against Seychelles would all but guarantee participation at the continental tournament to be hosted by Cameroon.
“We have, historically, had issues against teams like these, the smaller nations. And it is our jobs to make it right. Maybe we didn’t do ourselves any favours labelling Cape Verde a small nation we could easily beat,” said Baxter.
The Cape Verde debacle cost Bafana a place in the World Cup earlier this year after they surprised South Africa in Praia with a 2-1 win and then again in Durban by the same scoreline, effectively ending their hopes of getting to Russia.
Facing Seychelles home and away is set up quite similarly, with many expecting Bafana to walk all over their opponents at FNB Stadium next Saturday and away three days later.
Baxter said he had no issues with such probabilities - but urged the squad he has selected to step up and prove themselves.
“Our four points put us in a good situation - that’s if we do the job properly against Seychelles. We need to put this minnows debate to bed, that we can face the so-called smaller nations and get the results we need,” the coach insisted.
Some of the changes Baxter has made and believes can give Bafana the edge over Seychelles include Mamelodi Sundowns defender Thapelo Morena and China-based striker Dino Ndlovu, who is a direct replacement for Bradley Grobler, a player struggling with a recurring groin injury and who played just three minutes of the MTN8 cup final at the weekend.
“This game suits Morena, especially because I think we will be on the front foot. Dino is hitting the back of the net. If he plays he believes he will score. I don’t know how many strikers we have believe they can.
He is one that is scoring, whether it is in the first or 10th divisions. I have seen the goals and he is well worth bringing into the squad because we are going to need some muscle - and goals,” said Baxter.