AFRICA CUP OF NATIONS
Seychelles must be taken seriously, says Baxter
There was a time when Bafana Bafana had a seat at the continental football head table and were expected to brush past teams such as Seychelles without breaking a sweat.
Any doubts those days are long gone were laid to rest this week when Bafana coach Stuart Baxter said his charges have such difficulty acquainting themselves with the so-called minnows that victory is not always a certainty.
Memories of the home and away defeats to Cape Verde a year ago were seemingly still fresh in Baxter’s mind — Cape Verde upset Bafana 2-1 in Praia and repeated the trick with the same scoreline in Durban a few days later — as he announced the squad to face 189th-ranked Seychelles in a 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier at FNB Stadium next Saturday.
‘‘In terms of the group situation itself‚ I don’t think there’s anybody that really thinks historically we have been good at playing the so-called smaller nations‚" Baxter said. ‘‘That said, I don’t think that any of us — you‚ me and the players — have done ourselves any favours by trying to label Cape Verde as one of the smaller nations given the number of players they have playing abroad and their record.
‘‘You know, with humility, we probably made a mistake there [in the World Cup qualifiers] and trod on that banana skin well and truly," he said.
Bafana are second on the 2019 Afcon standings with four points from two games and trail Group E leaders Libya on goal difference. Baxter’s charges‚ who are 73rd on the Fifa standings‚ beat Nigeria 2-0 away in a shock result but then laboured to a disappointing 0-0 draw with Libya in September.
After hosting Seychelles on October 13‚ the return game is set for October 16 in Seychelles.
Asked if he was not confident of getting six points against the Seychelles‚ Baxter said: ‘‘The truth is we have had issues with teams like this and we need to put it right."