Afcon 2019: Bafana Bafana don't need motivation ahead of Egypt clash - Baxter

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The Bafana mentor has shared his thoughts after his side secured progression to the Round of 16

There’s no need for motivation when South Africa take on 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosts Egypt in the Round of 16, according to head coach Stuart Baxter.

Bafana Bafana recently snuck into the next round of the continental showpiece as one of the four best third-placed teams, despite being less than convincing having only beaten Namibia, and tasted defeats to both Ivory Coast and Morocco, failing to register a shot on target in either game.

This has led Bafana to be seen as underdogs heading into the showdown with the North African giants.

However, Baxter is optimistic and excited by the challenge which awaits the 1996 Afcon champions.

“It is a great challenge and that is what the whole squad has been looking for. I think the Afcon groups have been very tight, our group has been really tight,” Baxter was quoted as saying by Safa’s website.

“It was seconds away from almost every game being a different game, a different result so the people will think we have gone through the back door or whatever, but we were seconds away in a couple of games from going through on our own power and people would have said that is a great performance.

“But that is what our game is about. It is about perceptions. One referee’s decision or one mistake will change perception but we have this opportunity now to play against the host nation in front of a lot of people in a very, very hostile environment. And that is when you want people to stand up and I think the group is looking forward to it."

While Baxter and Bafana have received much criticism for their shortcomings in Egypt, Baxter believes his team remain on the right track as they look to upset the home side.

“The main motivation is if they want to do it and I think that is the main thing, that is going to be the motivation that they want very badly to get past this hurdle. I don’t think I have to change anything; I think we have to strengthen some things,” the 65-year-old explained.

However, Baxter admits his players need to improve, especially up-front.

“Our attacking players have not been at their best, our defensive play has been quite good but we need to add to that and against the quality of Egypt I guess it will be a different game altogether," he added.

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 “I don’t think mentally we have to lift them (the players). I think mentally they know each game was too close, were there and thereabout. I think the boys are looking forward to that challenge.

"I don’t think we have to do a massive motivational pump with them, I think they will be up to this one no matter what I say."

 

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