Bafana Bafana

Win or lose, Baxter to remain positive in building process

Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)
Stuart Baxter (Gallo Images)

Cape Town - South Africa kick off their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifying campaign on Saturday, June 10 against Nigeria in a Group E clash.

The match is set to take place at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium in Uyo State.

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter on Thursday announced his first 25-man squad to tackle the Super Eagles next month.

South Africa have only claimed a single victory out of the 12 games they have met the West African giants.

Back in 2004 - under the tutelage of Baxter during his first spell as mentor - Bafana Bafana won against Nigeria courtesy of goals from Shaun Bartlett and Benedict Vilakazi.

Of the 12 games played, Nigeria have won seven while four of the matches ended in draws.

"Everybody wants to get off on the right foot so a win would be important in many ways," said Baxter after announcing his 25-man squad.

"We are going to go to Nigeria and we’re going to do our best to win the game.

"Don’t anybody be under any illusions that we are not going to go there and sell ourselves very dearly.

"I want to get off on a good start but for the qualification... playing Nigeria away, if we win, fantastic - if we draw, not bad.

"We want at least a point from the game. We are going to try and get a good result.

"I think we should go there in a positive way. I don’t think we should go there in a negative way (and be) scared to lose."

The 63-year-old admits that in the process of building a solid foundation with the national squad he wants people to look at the positives in order to take Bafana Bafana to new heights.

"I heard someone talking about our Under-20 team and saying that, 'wow these are going to be the future Bafana players and must be disappointed about their dismal showing,'" said Baxter.

Amajita are currently in Korea Republic at the Under-20 Soccer World Cup representing South Africa. 

However, Thabo Senong's charges have lost two of their three Group D matches against Japan (2-1) and Italy (2-0) respectively. 

"We're going to Nigeria," Baxter continued. "Nigeria is possibly the strongest opposition we could get at this moment in time, on their own patch.

"Is it a disaster if we lose? No, but you want to win. We want to win. That's the thing.

"So I don't think it was dismal of the boys (Amajita). I think they have done great to get there.

"I think we should call it what it is. We've done really well. Signs are starting to show from the development program and I think we should call it what it is. They are getting that experience.

"Japan are very good team and they didn't beat Italy...

"Well guys if I get into Russia (2018 Soccer World Cup) and we (Bafana) lose 1-0 to Brazil in the first game and you say, 'well we're a disgrace' that's exactly what I am talking about when we say negativity.

"We've got to really look at the positives," Baxter concluded.

The coach informed the media that he already has a "name" as to who will wear the captain's armband but is reluctant to reveal which player will lead the squad.

Shakes Mashaba, for most part of his tenure as head coach, rotated the captaincy but Baxter seems adamant that one individual will don the armband for the nation.

Kick off is at 18:00 (SA time).

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