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Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter wary of Madagascar threat ahead of Cosafa Cup quarter-final

13:40 BST 02/06/2018
Stuart Baxter, Bafana Bafana
The four time Cosafa Cup winners will meet Madagascar in the quarter-finals of this year’s regional tournament on Sunday

With South Africa national team coach Stuart Baxter set to lead his men against Madagascar in the 2018 Cosafa Cup quarter-final on Sunday, the coach expects a tough encounter.

The English manager has challenged his troops to be at their best in the clash and ensure that they reach the next stage of the regional tournament.

Bafana will face the on-form Malagasy side which finished as Group A winners with seven points from two wins and a single draw.

In an aim to study his opponent, Baxter and his assistant, Molefi Ntseki, were at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium as the Barea defeated Comoros in their final group match on Thursday evening.

Speaking ahead of the clash as they want to lift their fifth Cosafa trophy and dethrone Zimbabwe as reigning champions, Baxter acknowledged the pace of the Islanders.

“They have very good players, and also very technical,” Baxter was quoted as saying by IOL.

"They play very quickly and tackle very quickly so we have to take a lot of care with our ball possession, and also pay a lot of attention to our defending – especially in one v one situations so we don’t get dominated physically,” he warned.

“They are very speedy, and as such they turn the ball very often so our transitions will be very important as well,” he said.

“We have played a little friendly game and a little 11 v 11, that’s what my team has played together and the first game will be probably the most difficult for us because we have to play, get together and gel a little bit,” continued the coach.

"So it’s a difficult game in a lot of ways, but it is one I think the boys can handle based on what I have seen of the squad, and I am hopeful we can deal with this one and then the tournament opens us for us,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, the two sides have previously met on five occasions, but the hosts have claimed four wins whilst one ended in a stalemate.

The winner of the clash at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday will face the victor of the quarterfinal clash between Zambia and Namibia in the semi-finals.