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Stuart Baxter stresses positive Bafana Bafana psyche ahead of crucial Senegal fixtures

Posted: 6 November 2017 Time: 12:20

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is again set to enlist the services of sport psychologist Martin Scheepers ahead of the two crucial matches against Senegal.

Bafana are set to host The Lions of Teranga in their final two 2018 World Cup qualifiers, with the first one being the FIFA-ordered replay in Polokwane on Friday before they travel to Dakar for the return fixture next Tuesday.

Senegal currently lead Group D with eight points from four games, needing two points to cement their position, while South Africa find themselves in bottom place with just four points, needing to win both ties to land a place in Russia.

Prior to the 3-1 victory over Burkina Faso last month, Baxter brought Scheepers in to give his players a pep talk following the back-to-back defeats to Cape Verde, and has confirmed he will return.

"Martin came in and did one slot in the Burkina Faso build-up, and he will come in again and do exactly the same," said Baxter.

"It won't be the exact words but he will come in and sit with the coaches on Wednesday and on Thursday he will have an hour slot to do some stuff with the players.

"Really, we hope, it will be confirmation of what we're saying as the technical staff and also help the players to stay in the zone, stay focused and stay optimistic.

"A few of those mental skills that maybe sitting on social media all day long tends to destroy, when you're constantly reading that people are insulting you, or you're not happy with what's being written by the media. So we want him to help keep the players in the 'here and now'."

Baxter is confident of overcoming the test against Aliou Cisse's side, and stressed the importance of optimism to ensure they approach the matches with the correct mentality.

"Can we beat Senegal? Absolutely. If we can go to Nigeria and beat Nigeria, and if we can beat Burkina Faso who played two very tight games with Senegal then we can give them a game," added the Brit.

"I think, again, it's how we approach it. If we approach it optimistically, we are the hunters, they're the hunted. If they want to play 'drop-off' and let us come onto them, then that's up to them.

"But we'll be hunting and we feel we're hunting with nothing to lose. They may feel that they're being hunted with a hell of a lot to lose, especially with the big names they have in their team.

"So yes, we can win, and I'll be looking at just the one game first and putting all our efforts into that – in preparation, training time, getting the loading right and then we'll see where that leaves us."

Kick-off at the Peter Mokaba Stadium is set for 19h30 on Friday evening, while the away leg will start at 21h30 (SA time).

Article by: Chad Klate (@CKlatey)
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