Baxter bangs the positivity drum

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Bafana are expected to collect six points from their back-to-back African Nations Cup qualifiers against The Pirates on Saturday and Tuesday, given that Nigeria and Libya have comfortably beaten them thus far.

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Gaining points against the islanders is crucial given the close proximity of the teams in Group E, which has the Mediterranean Knights topping the standings on goal difference and The Super Eagles just one point adrift in third place.

The approach to the match is arguably what will be most important for Baxter’s side, as underestimating the minnows could backfire in the same way Cape Verde surprised Bafana in the recent World Cup qualifiers.

With this in mind, the Briton has outlined the mental approach needed to overcome Seychelles, while taking pointers from both Libya and Nigeria’s victories over them earlier on.

“Nigeria has some of the guys that are playing in the highest leagues in the world and earning a lot more money than our boys, and yet still they had the same challenge,” said Baxter.

“[Their coach] said until they scored the first goal it was very difficult, and I’ve also seen Libya’s game against Seychelles and until they scored the first goal it was difficult, because you don’t really know where your head space is.

“Now, the only thing I can say to the players is that one, I think we have a lot to win so let’s focus on that. What we have to lose, I couldn’t care less. But what we have to win is big.

“And I want us to look at this not as if we disrespect our opponents, but just that we believe in ourselves. I think if we concentrate on how strong we want to be then I think we push to the back or even out of our mind the risks that we’re taking.”

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More than the points, Baxter wants his charges to focus on the game-plan and believe in their ability to carry it out, while fighting to overcome previous mental barriers set up by past results and performances.

“We have to concentrate on what we want to do and what we want to be and how good we think we are. And if we concentrate on that and not on this, that and the next thing of hypotheticals – let’s affect what we can affect,” he added.

“We can affect our performance and our mentality. Is that easy? No, it’s not. Have we been good at that in the past? Probably not, but it’s absolutely something we have to deal with on this camp and show it.

“Nigeria found it was difficult, Libya found it was difficult, but at the end of the 90 minutes they did what was expected, and we’ve got to do the same.”

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