Bafana coach Stuart Baxter prepping for Senegal showdowns in World Cup qualifying
Posted: 9 October 2017 Time: 07:58
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has ended the national team camp earlier than expected with injuries to Itumeleng Khune and Andile Jali a factor in his decision.
Instead of dispersing on Monday afternoon, Baxter felt it would be in the best interests of the squad to release the players early to their clubs.
Bafana held a training session yesterday after their fine 3-1 win over Burkina Faso on Saturday at FNB Stadium.
The players who started the match only did light work and were then rested, while the others worked with Baxter. Khune (ankle sprain) and Jali (shoulder sprain) did not take part in any activities.
Others players nursing injuries were: Thulani Serero (ankle), Bradley Grobler (ankle), Hlompho Kekana (ankle) and Teboho Langerman (tight calf muscles).
“After serious deliberation with the technical team, we decided that it is not in the best interest of the players to continue with another training session scheduled for Monday. What also pushed us to that decision was the many players carrying injuries and we felt they would be better off if given more time to rest to help them recover quicker,” said Baxter.
“We also believe this will help overseas-based players to spend a few more hours with their families than would have been possible before they jet out of the country to return to their clubs. On the other hand, this will assist local-based players to report early at their teams as we want to keep a healthy relationship with all the clubs – both local and overseas.”
Bafana's next World Cup qualifier is on Friday, 10 November against Senegal at Peter Mokaba Stadium in Polokwane. Kick-off is at 19h00.
Four days later they will revive hostilities with the Teranga Lions at Stade Leopold Sedar in Senghor.
South Africa have to win both matches to book their spot at Russia 2018. They are bottom of Group D with four points from four matches.
Senegal, who defeated Cape Verde 2-0 on Saturday, top the pool with eight points.
Burkina Faso and Cape Verde are tied on six points with one match remaining against each other.
“Senegal’s victory over Cape Verde has tilted the scale slightly in our favour and now we are still very much alive in the qualifiers. I have been saying we have to live in the here and now, what happens in the other match is not our concern. We have to win the remaining matches and we are off to Russia, anything less we know we are out – because with six points each, Burkina Faso and Cape Verde can only get to nine points, while two wins for us will take us to ten points, so it is very much in our hands,” added Baxter.
“If we thought the clash against Burkina Faso was a World Cup final, the two matches against Senegal are way more than that. We need to continue from where we left off against the Burkinabe and if we can have the same aggression and attitude when we face Senegal, then we are very close to realising our dream. There’s no doubt in my mind or the players’ that it will be a difficult match but it is very much possible to get positive results, and we have to continue to believe. We would like to thank the fans for the support at FNB Stadium, and we are confident they will do so again in Polokwane.”
Bafana will be without suspended France-based midfielder Bongani Zungu, who was red carded in the clash against Burkina Faso.