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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon: Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter downplays South Africa's chances

20:36 IST 18/06/2019
Stuart Baxter South Africa June 6
The Bafana manager says his men must keep on improving, whilst saying the Egypt are favourites to win Afcon on home soil

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has downplayed his team’s chances at the 2019 African Cup of Nations tournament, preferring to say they are a side still under construction.

The English mentor believes hosts EgyptCameroon, and Morocco are among the sides who could win the continental tournament.

“This is a team in reconstruction. This is a team that okay, we haven’t lost in a year and a half - that’s encouraging, but to call us one of the favourites would be ridiculous,” Baxter said as quoted by Independent Media.

Baxter’s men have arrived in Egypt to finalise their preparations for the biennial showpiece and will face Angola in a friendly on Wednesday.

As they will open their Group D account against Cote d’Ivoire on Monday, June 24, Baxter said Bafana must keep on improving.

“I think that you’ve got Cameroon, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast and Morocco who will all feel that they’ve got a much better chance than us,” he added.

“What we need to do is to keep on improving, play our game with confidence and we don’t show an exaggerated respect for everybody. We have to go out there with the belief that we have a chance to win, and you’ll never know what will happen."

However, the former Kaizer Chiefs manager didn't rule out a South Africa challenge for the trophy.

“You win a few games and suddenly the whole thing leads its own life. Even though you are not favourites, it doesn’t mean that you don’t have a chance to win it,” continued the British manager.

On the other hand, the manager heaped praise on his players, singling out striker Percy Tau for praise following their goalless draw against the Black Stars of Ghana on Saturday in Dubai.

“I am always impressed with Percy because his attitude is spot on,” Baxter continued.

“We asked him to play a slightly different role in the friendly against Ghana. Our midfield players and our defenders didn’t defend the way we wanted to, which meant that Percy was dragged back.

“In the second half, we defended better so people like (Lebo) Maboe and Themba Zwane were also dangerous high up the field. That’s what we also wanted to do with Percy but we didn’t do that in the first half."