Africa Cup of Nations
‘We respect Nigeria but do not fear them’
Bafana Bafana prepare to take on visitors in Afcon match as West Africans hunt for revenge
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says he holds no fear over facing Nigeria as the countdown to the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) match against the West Africans at FNB Stadium this Saturday continues.
The Briton said he expects the visitors to have vengeance on their minds when they arrive in Johannesburg this week after unexpectedly going down 2-0 to Bafana at home in Uyo in his maiden match as SA coach in June 2017.
“We do have Nigeria first‚ in the small matter of an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier‚” Baxter said on Monday.
“Everybody knows the list of injuries that we have had. Everybody knows what I said at the first media conference ... despite that [the injuries], I want to speak about the players that we do have because even though we respect Nigeria, we do not fear them.
“We have still enough talent‚ enough desire, and if we can structure a game plan in the next three or four days‚ I think by the time we run out onto the FNB Stadium we would be confident‚ we would not be complacent‚ because Nigeria have just come from a World Cup [in Russia].
“They are undefeated since we beat them the last time and they will certainly want to wreak their revenge. So‚ we will be ready and I still believe that we have a very good chance of getting the result that we need.”
Baxter said there were injury concerns about Holland-based midfielder Thulani Serero and Super Sport United goalkeeper Ronwen Williams.
“The ultrasound did not find any tears but it will take him [Williams] 24 to 48 hours for it [slight knee strain] to settle.
“So that is a little bit of a scare, but we will not call in a third keeper and we will keep Ronwen because I think he will be okay,” he said.
“The second one is Thulani Serero. We did not receive anything from the club about Thulani but through media reports in Holland.
“They said he had an ankle injury. We knew he was on the plane but we did not know anything about the injury. So we held our breaths a little bit.
“When he arrived, he said he had a laceration‚ five stitches and a gash. The stitches should be removed on Monday. He should be okay for training on Tuesday.
“We did, after that, get a doctor’s report from Holland,” said the coach.
Bafana have a tough schedule in the coming days as after hosting the Nigerians‚ they travel to Moses Mabhida Stadium to play Paraguay in the Nelson Mandela Challenge on Tuesday.