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Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter concentrating on development rather than winning 2019 Afcon title

4:49 PM WAT 24/04/2019
Stuart Baxter, Bafana Bafana
The 65-year-old mentor has explained why Bafana Bafana are not yet at the level of winning the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations which will be held in Egypt
South Africa Under-23 head coach David Notoane says including a few youngsters in the final Bafana Bafana squad for the 2019 Afcon finals would be a step in the right direction for the country.

“This is the final leg. We are starting to get it right because even coach Shakes Mashaba [former Bafana mentor] used to preach about this during his tenure,” Notoane told City Press.

Bafana coach Stuart Baxter also indicated that he will consider including a few young players in his final squad, and Notoane feels that it would be good for the development of the players.

“Coach Baxter and I have been in discussion about the under-23 team and he held the view that whenever there is an opportunity, he’ll give young players a feel in the senior national team setup. It is very encouraging that the senior team coach has that kind of thinking," he added.

Teboho Mokoena, Phakamani Mahlambi, Luther Singh and Lyle Foster are among the players who might be considered by Baxter.

The British tactician said he would like to emulate France, who have enjoyed success while selecting youngsters to play alongside their senior peers to gain experience in recent years.

“When Didier Deschamps was analyzing the World Cup at the Fifa conference in London [in September], he said the two full-backs were in the squad four years earlier – not as members of the squad proper, but they were taken in for development purposes,” said Baxter.

The former England Under-19 coach was referring to World Cup-winning defenders Benjamin Pavard and Lucas Hernandez, who are both 23.

“Yes, we want to do that but it’s made difficult for us because we have the SA Under-20s and the Under-23s active at the same time [prior to Afcon]. Maybe from the Under-23s; that they arrive in camp a little bit late. We are certainly going to do that," he added.

“If I go back a year... we said we had to make changes – we had to try to rejuvenate the squad, bring down the age and make the pool wider and deeper and, at the same time, we had to qualify for Afcon. That’s not an easy background. The fact that they’ve qualified is a big credit to the boys," he explained.

“The squad will probably take on the look of a larger squad that we then peg back... we’ve got a few games left in the league and a lot can happen there; injuries can take place. So, it’s important that we have that long squad for eventual mishaps," he said.

The two-time PSL title-winning coach stated that they are concentrating on development rather than winning this year's Afcon trophy.

“We’ve done well to qualify but where does this position us? Can we win Afcon or is this a path for development? We should try to create an identity that will take us further where we want to go and use these games for what they are," he stressed.

“We can concentrate on the development of the present squad and bring in a few more good youngsters. Then I think we can knock some of these guys over and that will be the results everybody wants. We have to concentrate on development rather than get carried way and say now we must win Afcon," he concluded.

South Africa are in Group E alongside Morocco, Ivory Coast and Namibia with the tournament set to be held in Egypt between June 21 and July 19.