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Bafana Bafana: Ntseki gives his verdict on Baxter’s Afcon campaign

15:12 GMT+3 20/09/2019
Molefi Ntseki, South Africa - May 2019
South Africa managed just one goal in the group stage, but still progressed to the knockout phase of the tournament

New Bafana Bafana coach Molefi Ntseki has played down talk that South Africa were too defensive at the Africa Cup of Nations finals in June in Egypt, and defended the work of his predecessor Stuart Baxter.

In Egypt, the team reached the quarter-finals before being knocked out of the tournament by Nigeria, having eliminated the hosts in the Round of 16.

With the team scoring just three goals and conceding four in five games, Bafana appeared a defensive side, but Ntseki has dismissed that suggestion.

“When people look at our approach as being too defensive, I have a different view because in football there are moments when you have to manage a game – whether you are leading or under pressure,” Ntseki told Sport24.

“When it comes to being defensive or offensive it also depends on the tactical strategies that you have for your opponent and your team on the day of the game."

Bafana lost to Ivory Coast and Morocco in the group stage, while they also laboured to edge Namibia 1-0 and sneak into the knockout phase of the tournament as one of the best-placed third-placed teams.  

A shock 1-0 win over hosts Egypt in the Round of 16 saw South Africa reach the quarter-finals, where they lost 2-1 to Nigeria.

“If you look at how we lost some of the games, it was not because of us being too defensive," the new coach continued. "It was mainly towards the end of the game from a transition or set-play.

"Something like that can happen to any team, even the best in the world. It was unfortunate that against Nigeria we conceded very late when we were already preparing for extra-time.”

Baxter’s departure has raised optimism of a fresh-looking Bafana side under Ntseki that will score more goals than before.