Stuart Baxter discusses tactics with Shaun Bartlett during Bafana training this week. Photo: Samuel Shivambu/BackpagePix

One hundred and sixteen. That’s how many places separate Bafana Bafana and Seychelles on the Fifa rankings.

And no, to the cynics out there, Bafana are not lower than the Indian Ocean islanders!

But South Africa’s current rating of 73 is not something to write home about either. Having missed the last Africa Cup of Nations and World Cup, they have no right to take Seychelles lightly at the FNB Stadium on Saturday (3pm kickoff).

‘The Pirates’ are way down on 189, and are believed to have players who have regular day jobs, compared to the high-flying South Africans with overseas contracts and big paycheques with local clubs.

But we all saw what happened when Bafana underestimated their last opponents, Libya – a goalless draw in Durban.

And while SA are still on track to make it to Cameroon next year, they would be really embarrassed if they can’t get the three points on Saturday.

“We didn’t do some things much (during Libya game) in terms of our quick movement,” Baxter said on the SA Football Association website on Friday, adding that his players needed to “concentrate on your own performance; discard the ranking”.

Bafana’s build-up has been disrupted by the withdrawal of Thapelo Morena, Vincent Pule and Sibusiso Vilakazi, which saw Thamsanqa Mkhize, Thembinkosi Lorch and Gift Links called up.

Two overseas-based stars, Percy Tau and Dino Ndlovu, also arrived late in camp as they turned out for their clubs on Sunday in Belgium and China respectively.

But the coach is still satisfied with the preparation.

“The players have looked good and sharp. They had a heavy PSL programme, so that is a good balance. I must say the majority (of players) have been very impressive at training,” Baxter said.

“I said to the players last night when we did the presentation, ‘What is that you see written on the middle’ and they said ‘Afcon qualifier’.

“This is what we need to do (qualify for 2019 Afcon). The players want to play in major tournaments, and this is the message we emphasised all along.”

 

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