Baxter pleased with Bafana progress

Bafana will round off their four-nations tournament against the hosts in the final on Saturday afternoon, with Baxter closely monitoring the development aspect of the outing.

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Having put out a good display of character and fighting spirit, the team managed to come from behind and beat Angola 6-5 in a penalty shootout on Wednesday, which the British tactician felt was a sign of progress given their last meeting with the Sable Antelopes in March last year.

“We put the emphasis on development… 12 Months ago, we played Angola and it ended 0-0, and I think we had almost a full-strength team out then,” said Baxter.

“I think we had a couple of kids and took them off around half-time, and it ended 0-0 in a very close game. I think with the amount of young ones and new faces in this game, it was great to see us dominating completely in the second half, we should have won 3-1.

“It was just rewards when we then won the penalty shootout.”

Bafana went 1-0 down just after the half-hour mark, following a reckless mistake by centre-back Buhle Mkhwanazi, but still managed to carve out numerous opportunities of their own, until eventually Lebogang Mothiba equalised in the second half of his senior international debut.

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Baxter was delighted at being able to resist the temptation of reverting to his tried and trusted, with the youngsters stepping up and getting the desired result, and says he will look to do so again against Chipolopolo tomorrow in his effort to widen the pool of selection.

“The emphasis was on development, and it would have been easy to panic at half-time to try and top up the team and put on a few more experienced players on,” he added.

“But we stayed true to what we wanted to do, and I think it was good – the result was good. If we get the same sort of opportunity now, we’re going to put four more younger players in and give them a longer run.

“We’ll try and then top that up with a few more younger players or new faces, then if we can do that and get a result as well, that would be optimum.

“But I’m happy if we can get a good look at these players, and they get the benefit of this international experience, so that moving forward we get the feeling that our squad is deepening and widening a little bit.”