Baxter hoping for further improvement
Posted: 8 June 2018 Time: 10:00
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is hoping to see further improvement in his side in the COSAFA Cup plate final, given that the players are now more familiar with one another.
Bafana are set to face Botswana in their last encounter of the tournament this evening, and will be looking to end their camp on a high by winning consolation honours.
The Zebras have lost only one game in the event, after topping their group before bowing out of the quarterfinals due to a penalty shootout defeat to finalists Zimbabwe.
Baxter suspects coach David Bright’s outfit may be a little fatigued having played five games in the last 10 days, but also believes it could play to their advantage as they have been allowed to find their rhythm.
The British tactician hopes game-time will also benefit his charges, who have played two matches and put out a vastly improved showing in the 4-1 win over Namibia after losing on penalties to minnows Madagascar.
“Botswana played well against Zimbabwe. They played very well to go through [the group] and have also battled because they have had plenty of games,” said Baxter ahead of tonight’s clash.
“But, then again, those lots of games help you to gel a little bit – you find a rhythm, which hopefully we have found now.”
With a new-look side, which has already included nine debutants thus far, Baxter has explained the challenge of playing fewer competitive matches while trying to get the team ticking.
“You get the lads together and you play a game – you try to play a friendly game in between [but] it’s not the same,” he lamented.
“You go into your first game hoping they will find each other – it’s a big ask. The second game was better. Hopefully the third game [against Botswana] will be a little bit better.”
With midfielder Fortune Makaringe ruled out due to suspension, Baxter aims to use the opportunity to give a few more of the less experienced players a run in the later stages of the match.
“We will definitely make that change [of Makaringe], and will later maybe give the younger ones a bit more of a run,” he stated.
“Since it’s the end of the season, there may be fatigue but the inspiration and motivation of wanting to play will take over.
“I am happy there was a good mood in the dressing room, in fact, more like satisfaction because they gave a better performance and the result was better.”