Baxter turns focus to COSAFA
Posted: 26 June 2017 Time: 16:04
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is ready to focus solely on his national team duties as he prepares his squad for the upcoming Castle COSAFA Cup.
Baxter named a 20-man squad to defend their 2016 title in Rustenburg next month, with the likes of Aubrey Ngoma, Lorenzo Gordinho and Lebogang Maboe part of the roster.
The British tactician has already been forced into two changes, with Mandla Masango and Lebogang Phiri being withdrawn by their respective clubs, but he has thanked the support from those who have released their players despite pre-season preperations getting underway.
“It is a fact that this tournament does not fall under the FIFA Calendar date, so it was always going to be a struggle to put together a team, but we have say a big thank you to all the clubs who were able to assist us in putting together this group of players," Baxter told SAFA.net.
"The cooperation we got from the clubs was very positive and inspiring and we really appreciate that."
Meanwhile, Baxter ended his SuperSport United reign on a high by successfully defending their Nedbank Cup title, which he also lead the team to last year, beating Orlando Pirates in the final for a second successive year on Saturday.
The former Kaizer Chiefs mentor is relieved to be able to now give his undivided attention to the progress and rebuilding of Bafana.
“It’s a good thing that I am now able to focus all my attention on the national team and don’t have to keep on swopping hats and uniforms to service this or the other project," he added.
"Now I am able to pour all my energies on this one job and make the best of it. I have to take this opportunity to thank everyone who has been supporting me throughout and I hope that support continues because we have a very important period ahead of us in the national team – first up is the COSAFA CUP, then the CHAN tournament, followed by World Cup qualifiers and early next year we play the AFCON qualifiers – so we're going to need all the support we can get.”
Baxter and his chargers will get their COSAFA Cup title defence underway on Saturday, July 2, in the quarterfinal round.