Stuart Baxter. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES
Stuart Baxter. Picture: SUNDAY TIMES

None of the fringe players given a chance to wear the national team jersey and stake a claim for more regular international football made any impression on new coach Stuart Baxter in the disappointing 1-0 loss to Tanzania at the Royal Bafokeng Sports Palace on Sunday.

The makeshift South African team‚ cobbled together to defend their Cosafa Castle Cup crown‚ flopped in their opening game and now have to play in the losers’ plate competition‚ starting with Botswana at the Moruleng Stadium on Tuesday (kickoff 5pm).

Such was the poverty of the performance from the South Africans‚ Baxter said candidly afterwards: "No one really put their hand up. Maybe only [Riyaad] Norodien. I thought he did well.

"From our point of view, it was a disappointing evening, but it was more about getting information. So, I’ll have to satisfy myself with information rather than the result."

Caught between a rock and hard place‚ the Cosafa Castle Cup is an assignment he could have done without and while the tournament offers not much more than a chance to look at fringe players‚ Baxter now has another loss behind his name.

"I didn’t think it was a very good game from either side and I didn’t think the pitch was very helpful. The ball was bobbling all over the place. I thought both sides had problems trying to play real football and it became like ‘play long‚ pick up second balls‚ get balls into the box’ and for both teams it was about defending first ball‚ defending the second ball," he said.

"In the first half, we let in a goal in a period when we had just started to take control of the game. After that, a little bit of panic set in. The panic meant everything was done in a rush and that’s why we missed chances."

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