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Bafana coach Stuart Baxter explains Andile Jali introduction against Cape Verde

Posted: 6 September 2017 Time: 10:36

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has explained his decision to field midfielder Andile Jali off the bench in the 2-1 World Cup qualifying loss to Cape Verde in Durban last night.

The ex-Orlando Pirates man impressed when coming on for striker Bradly Grobler in the 65th minute as he tracked back and added impetus going forward.

Jali, who plays for Belgian club Oostende, was rewarded for his efforts when he reduced the deficit in the 89th minute, but it was not enough as Garry Rodriguez's brace saw the visitors home at Moses Mabhida Stadium.

Baxter began the match with Dean Furman and Hlompho Kekana in central midfield, with the latter being replaced by forward Percy Tau in the 78th minute. Furman also started alongside Bongani Zungu in the 2-1 defeat to the islanders in Praia last week.

"Do you think Jali is more creative than Kekana?" a visibly distraught Baxter asked at the post-match press conference when quizzed on Jali.  

"I'm trying to be calm and balanced now to answer your question. But everybody thinks that every player that you change, you could ask me 10 questions: 'Why did you take off Bradley Grobler when he's the one that can head in the crosses? Why did you put Lebo Manyama in behind the two strikers?' I could sit here all night.

"Jali is an attacking option and we were 2-0 down, and I want all my attacking options on the field. If the creativity is coming from just behind the strikers as Andile did, dropping a bit deep, setting up the attacks, then so be it.

"He's an attacking option and I thought it was the right time to put him on. Many people would say it was the wrong time, wrong player. That is their opinion and that is what football is about."

A second straight defeat leaves Bafana bottom of a tightly contested Group D with four points from four games - two points shy of the Blue Sharks and Burkina Faso, and one behind Senegal.

Baxter admitted the results were a major setback in their bid to earn a spot at Russia 2018.

"I'm very, very disappointed and devastated. At this moment to make that sort of call [if Bafana will qualify] I don't want to. I would like to see what happens with other results and see if it's mathematically impossible.

"But I think we got to improve obviously because we just come out from two defeats. We've got to improve if the results go our way to take that chance and obviously we'll keep on doing it. But if we want things to go our way we got to improve."

South Africa will conclude their qualifying campaign against Burkina Faso on October 7 at FNB Stadium before visiting Senegal in Dakar on November 11.

Article by: Robin-Duke Madlala
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