South Africa finished 5th in the 2017 COSAFA Castle Cup following a 1-0 win over Namibia in the Plate Final played on Friday, 7 July at the Moruleng Stadium.
“The result could have gone either way, we were hanging on in the last few minutes as Namibia was bombarding us. The save by (Boalefa) Pule during referee’s optional time was outstanding. But if I look at the game as a whole, I was disappointed with our start because they started brighter than us,” said Baxter.
“We missed a couple of chances during transition because we were not calm enough, and they came back into the game and started to apply a lot of pressure – and at that point I have to put the kids on because we had decided to introduce the young ones in the end to try and run the game out. It’s a chance you take but I wanted to expose them to that, and I think they did quite well.”
South Africa played three matches in the competition, scoring an equal number of goals.
15 players made their debut in the tournament and two of them grabbed a goal each during the tournament – Mohau Mokate and Riyaad Norodien. Judas Moseamedi scored the other goal.
“I challenged the players with three different ways of playing – we played 4-2-3-1 against Tanzania, 4-3-3 against Botswana and 4-4-2 against Namibia and I was doing that to test my players. Against Botswana it took a while before we could play with our two strikers and support them properly. But I thought once we started playing, we controlled the game quite well,” added Baxter.
“We can’t be happy when we don’t win a tournament, but this week in general has given me a lot of information, and that will help me in the future selections. Remember that we decided with the Football Association that we will make the most of the COSAFA CUP and CHAN matches. We agreed that we will base both competitions with the U20 squad and strengthen it with a few PSL players where we can because there are also some players we want to check out there too, so that’s the positive – but the fact that we did not go further in the COSAFA Cup is not.”
Baxter used 19 of the 21 selected players, with only goalkeeper Darren Johnson and midfielder Sibongakonke Mbatha not getting a run in the COSAFA Cup.
“Right now I am armed with information and that was the intention. Those who watched the games will agree that the boys worked very hard and tried their best. Now it’s up to the technical staff to see where do they fit into the programme, and what more experience do we give them. The CHAN qualifiers will be more similar to this without players from abroad,” said Baxter.
The Bafana Bafana mentor admits though that there is still a lot of work to be done.
“All the information is useful especially in terms of the collective, but in terms of individuals maybe I don’t know a lot more than I knew. One good sight tonight (against Namibia) was young Sandile (Mthethwa) coming in and doing very well. I don’t like singling players out – he slotted into a back four that was under constant pressure but he stood his ground nicely. So yes, there is some useful information that we got, but I think they all have a lot of hard work to do.
Bafana Bafana’s next assignment is the CHAN qualifiers against Botswana.
Baxter is well aware that it is again going to be a challenge to get players, but is confident he will have a decent team to represent South Africa.
“The clubs understand the difference between the two competitions. Unfortunately, CHAN comes at a time when the PSL clubs are starting their pre-season training, but we will freshen up the team and I think it will be decent team. The challenge for us is that we have to start all over again in terms of the delivery of information,” said Baxter.
The first leg against Botswana will be played in Francistown on Saturday, 16 July, with the return leg scheduled for a week later (Saturday, 22 July) at the Moruleng Stadium.
Kickoff is at 15h00.
Bafana Bafana finished 5th after beating Namibia 1 nil, now it's Tanzania vs Lesotho.— Marks Maponyane (@MarksMaponyane) July 7, 2017
Then the other final is on Sunday, confusing isn't?
Bafana Bafana Cosafa - Namibia: Official lineups for match pic.twitter.com/ORivYY6XBA— Bafana Bafana (@BafanaBafana) July 7, 2017