Hosting AFCON a 'blessing and a curse'

SAFA have expressed an interest to host the competition after Cameroon were stripped of the rights to have the tournament in their country. CAF have asked SAFA to come to the rescue.

Hosting the AFCON would obviously mean Bafana book their spot in the 24-team competition automatically, taking pressure off Baxter who has had an up and down qualifying campaign. 

Bafana need a draw in their final qualifying match against Libya in Tunisia next year, but there would be no worries about getting the required result if they are awarded the right to host the competition. 

“I mean it’s like a blessing and a curse, isn’t it? Let’s put me in the spot as a professional coach. I think a game with the knife at the throat against Libya for this group of players, in their development, would be massive,” the former Kaizer Chiefs and SuperSport United coach said. 

“There’s a part of me that wants to play the game anyway, but AFCON on home soil for these group of players would be massive. Can we get both? I hope so. I hope that no matter what the decision is, we get to play Libya.”

The challenge for Baxter, if Bafana are indeed to host the AFCON, will be to motivate his players for a qualifying game that would be a dead rubber for the South Africans. 

“In terms of me preparing, I have to forget that I’ve heard that and keep on trying to get the players together. We need to keep doing the stuff we are doing to prepare for Libya. In my world, we are playing Libya and that’s it.

“Obviously the sooner we get an indication the better. If we get that shout early, and we know what it is, then that will be better.”

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