Baxter: Every qualifier's a WC final
Posted: 21 September 2017 Time: 20:00
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has retained hope of qualifying for the 2018 FIFA World Cup, despite the uphill battle that lies ahead.
Following back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde earlier this month, as well as FIFA’s ordering of last year’s home-leg match against Senegal, South Africa are in dire straits with just one point at the bottom of Group D.
Next month will see group leaders Burkina Faso visit the FNB Stadium, where Bafana will need to win at all costs to ensure their hopes of going to Russia remain alive.
After naming his 25-man squad at the match venue on Wednesday, Baxter restated his belief that qualification is still possible, and stressed that all remaining matches of the campaign are now “World Cup finals”.
“We’ve got three games to play. If it’s not mathematically impossible for us to get there [to the World Cup] then the coach would be derelict in his duties if he didn’t think he could manage it,” argued Baxter.
“If I was to sit here today and say, ‘no, I think we’re going to struggle [to qualify]’ then I may as well get down, walk out and go home.
“So we have three games to play – three times 90 minutes plus – and we need to put ourselves in a position where every one of these games is a World Cup final, because that’s what it is for us.
“We need to go at it with every ounce of energy we have, and we have to make sure that we believe that we can win those games.”
The British tactician also conceded that the team’s confidence will need to be restored following the two defeats to the Blue Sharks.
“As you can imagine the confidence of the team [is down] from going to Nigeria, where everyone was flying, to two defeats against Cape Verde,” he added.
“You can imagine with the frustration of the people and the media, it makes everyone concerned that their confidence has taken a smack.
“One of the things we’ve got to do is try to bring that confidence back – that’s the first thing we have to do on the [upcoming] camp.”