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Stuart Baxter pleased with Bafana Bafana debutants, promises overhaul in four-nations final

Posted: 22 March 2018 Time: 09:00

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was happy with what he saw in their opening clash of the four-nations tournament in Zambia and promises changes aplenty in the final.

Baxter named four debutants in his starting line-up to face Angola at the Levy Mwanawasa Stadium, where they came out 6-5 penalty shootout victors after playing to a 1-1 draw on Wednesday afternoon.

Defenders Motjeka Madisha, Buhle Mkhwanazi and Reeve Frosler were all new to the setup, alongside Sifiso Hlanti, as the Sable Antelopes drew first blood after the half-hour mark thanks to an error at the back.

However, France-based striker Lebogang Mothiba restored parity in the second half as he netted on his inaugural run-out for the senior team, after previously representing the under-23 side at the Rio Olympics.

Baxter felt the nerves amongst the new faces was evident in the early stages of the match, but once they got settled in there was a noticeable change in the whole team's performance.

“I thought in the first 10-15 minutes it was noticeable that the youngsters were nervous. I think all of them made simple mistakes,” said Baxter after the match.

“I thought Angola moved the ball better ­– their passing was better, and then I thought we, especially the younger players, settled down and they equipped themselves very nicely.

“We then had a very good period around 20-25 minutes. The goal [conceded] was unfortunate; the player took it very well.

“I thought we played better in the second half, we controlled the ball better, and then penalties are penalties, it could have gone either way but I’m very happy to go through [to the final].

“I think it was a difficult opponent and for the youngsters it was a big game, so I think they did quite well.”

In the tournament’s second encounter, Zambia and Zimbabwe also played to a stalemate in regulation time before Chipolopolo edged the Warriors 5-4 on penalties to setup a date with Bafana on Sunday afternoon (15h00), before which Zimbabwe will take on Angola (13h00).

Baxter has assured a complete overhaul of the team that played the opening match for Sunday’s encounter, with the likes of Brandon Petersen, Daniel Cardoso, Innocent Maela and Thembinkosi Lorch likely to make their debuts.

“The team I’ll be picking in the final will be a completely different team, it will be 11 different players. We need this game and we’ll do everything we can to win,” concluded the Brit.

Article by: Chad Klate (@CKlatey)
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