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Africa Cup of Nations

Afcon 2019: Stuart Baxter takes positives from South Africa's defeat to Ivory Coast

11:53 EAT 25/06/2019
Stuart Baxter, Ivory Coast v South Africa, June 2019
The Bafana mentor is adamant that his side put on a positive showing against the Elephants

South Africa senior men's national team head coach Stuart Baxter portrayed a defiant figure despite his side opening their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) campaign with a defeat on Monday.

Bafana Bafana fell to Ivory Coast courtesy of a lone second-half strike by Jonathan Kodjia that has now left Baxter’s men with a tough ask heading into their final two Group D games.  

Nonetheless, despite criticism levelled at Baxter for his side’s pragmatic approach, as they failed to register a single strike on target, the 65-year-old was pleased with the overall performance.

"I think we dealt with them quite well in the first half and it was an even game. In the second half the heat affected both teams and the tempo dropped, but I think we were comfortable in the game,” Baxter was quoted as saying by EWN.

"We can't complain about losing the game but I thought the players put in a great performance and it's a great learning curve for us,” he added.

Furthermore, Baxter believes that Bafana showed signs that they can still qualify for the knockout stages of the continental showpiece.

"The target for the remaining two games? I think we showed today that we belong in this tournament, we showed we can be a tough opponent for everybody," Baxter explained.

"We are going into both games looking to take points. I think we showed enough to say we can actually take points from this group," he said.

Next up for Bafana is a match against neighbours Namibia on Friday, and Baxter’s men will be targeting nothing short of three points.

"It's going to be a good game, it's a local derby sort of game so I think it's going to be a much more combative game," he continued.

"There are lots of ways to win a game, it's not just about throwing the kitchen sink. You've got to be smart about it and not step on a landmine. If either team loses then they can say goodbye," he concluded.