Baxter hints at new Bafana look for return match
Stuart Baxter says difficult to achieve continuity to make sure everybody is on the same page
Changes are expected to the Bafana Bafana team that will take on Cape Verde in a must-win 2018 World Cup qualifier at Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday (kick-off 7pm).
Coach Stuart Baxter is ready to wield the axe after Friday’s disappointing loss in Praia, which has dented Bafana’s hopes of qualifying for the 2018 tournament in Russia.
Bafana were given a lifeline when Burkina Faso and Senegal played to a goalless draw in Ouagadougou on Saturday.
Burkina Faso lead the group with five points after three matches. Senegal are ahead of SA on goal difference, with both teams on four points.
Baxter hinted on Sunday that some players would have to make way and it would appear many are likely to be sacrificed.
"I was certainly not pleased with the way we played [in Cape Verde]. We didn’t take the initiative," Baxter reflected.
"You could very possibly see changes in the midfield and … in the back four" as well as in goal.
One definite change will be in defence, where Eric Mathoho is suspended after receiving a red card in Praia.
The coach said there would be changes in the team’s shape.
The Briton suggested that the technical team could bring another centre-back into the squad to replace Mathoho.
And with Thulani Serero returning from a hamstring injury, he could be drafted in.
"Thulani came into the camp with a hamstring strain. Within 48 hours, the doctor told me he would be available, but I didn’t think it would be fair to bring him on for the first game. He’s available for this one," he said.
The 64-year-old insisted he would make changes in the best interest of the team rather than to please the nation.
"Everybody’s got their favourites, so I can’t please all of the people all the time. But to see changes, you may."
Either way, the former Kaizer Chiefs coach expected his team to be better in Tuesday’s clash.
"I think you will see a much more competitive game now and, certainly from our side, we’ve got a little bit of revenge [in mind]," Baxter said.
With his local experience, Baxter should know better than to trot out the excuses used by many of his predecessors when things did not go their way.
But the Briton complained about the limited time he had with his players ahead of the back-to-back qualifiers against Cape Verde‚ offering an all-too-familiar explanation for the loss.
"Going into the Cape Verde game‚ I think I had eight sessions with this squad‚" Baxter said.
"I had five against Nigeria [in June] and now we had three‚ possibly four‚ sessions.
"So, the most difficult thing for me is try to get some continuity to make sure everybody is on the same page."