Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has come under-fire for losing to Cape Verde Islands in the 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifiers, and he’s under immense pressure to at least win the remaining matches of Group D.
South Africa host Burkina Faso in a must-win encounter on Saturday, and Goal takes a look at the changes that the 64-year-old should make in order to appease the nation.
Tactically, Bafana were far worse against the Blue Sharks over two legs, and they only looked promising in the closing stages of the return leg in Durban after the introduction of Andile Jali.
Baxter faces a tough task of reshuffling his team to ensure that it suits his style of play.
As we all know, the former Kaizer Chiefs mentor prefers transition football; a tactic which requires pacey players down the flanks. He doesn’t have those players who can threaten opposition teams and create enough goalscoring opportunities for his strikers.
However, given the type of players he selected, he may need to find another way to breach the Burkina Faso defence through the middle.
Baxter has the luxury of choosing his best XI from the European stars he selected to ensure that there’s stability and creativity in the middle of the park.
Hlompho Kekana offers protection to the back four and is good going forward, especially in deadball situations, while Andile Jali, Bongani Zungu and Kamohelo can dominate the midfield, with either Keagan Dolly or Phakamani Mahlambi or even Themba Zwane operating in wide areas to ensure balance.
Dino Ndlovu and Bradley Grobler have already been given the chance to show the nation what they can offer, but they haven’t really left an impression, and it’s time for younger players to prove themselves.
Both Percy Tau and Lebo Mothiba are brimming with confidence having done well for their respective clubs, and they’re relatively unknown to the majority of Bafana’s African opponents. They could be Baxter’s source of goals going forward in this campaign.
Baxter will miss a few of his reliable defenders for this encounter, but he has equally capable stars at his disposal to beat The Stallions, especially as this will be a home game for Bafana Bafana.
Bafana look very thin at the back with Thulani Hlatshwayo and Erick Mathoho ruled out for this encounter, and this is Baxter’s chance to use that to his advantage by at least sacrificing one defender and go with three defenders against Burkina Faso.
Being attack-mind from the onset is the only way to get past Burkina Faso, but of course, that doesn’t mean he should forget about shutting the back door.
But at this stage, there’s no need to be defensive, as Bafana have got nothing to lose. The damage is already done, and what Baxter can do is to give South Africa the assurance that he has everything under control by convincingly beating the Burkinabes.
Baxter proved to almost every South African whilst he was at Kaizer Chiefs that he’s capable of changing formations depending on the results and opponents, and should things not go according to plan, he has plenty of options to change to a system that will suit Bafana well.
After all, he has enough quality players to change tactics without being caught off-guard.