Baxter: We are not intimidated by Ivory Coast

Stuart Baxter (Getty Images)
Stuart Baxter (Getty Images)

Cape Town - As South Africa prepares to take on football giants Ivory Coast on Monday in their 2019 Africa Cup of Nations opener, head coach Stuart Baxter says that they’re not afraid of anyone.

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Speaking at a pre-match press conference, the 65-year-old believes that his squad are hardworking and deserves the respect from the rest of the continent.

"There might be times where South African national teams might have been accused of not achieving what their potential deserves in the field because of not having the right focus," he said as quoted by the official SAFA website.

"That will not be the case with this group of players. This group of players have a very small ego and very great South African heart.

"They enjoy playing for their country and I am sure they are going to give it their best."

He continued: "We are playing against the best teams on the continent which we have in our group.

"We are not get intimidated but to play with respect and at the same time, give the opponents the respect that they deserve but never fear them. We have to be better than they think, we have to be quicker than they think, better organised than they think and if we can do that, then I think they will then have to rethink their game plan.

"You can’t sit back and hope they will make a few mistakes because once the machine is rolling it is difficult to stop them.

"So yes, we got to respect what they can do but also make sure they have to deal with something we can do."

The Ivorians physicality plays a huge role in their game and added to that, have some great players who play in the big leagues around the world, but Baxter urges his players to focus on their own game.

"We have played good teams before. Nigeria has good players, but we beat them 2-0 away," Baxter said.

"What you will see is a humble South African side. We are not favourites to win the tournament but what you will not see is a South African side afraid of its opponents.

"This is a side that can match any side in this tournament," concluded Baxter.

Meanwhile, Baxter revealed that his 23-man squad has had no injuries which is something he said was really satisfying.

"We don’t have any injuries in camp and these players have worked very hard and I think at this moment they are looking forward more than they are nervous, awaiting the first game," he said.

"We have some ups and downs in our preparations, just like any other team, but the players feel in good space and we are looking forward to the Ivory Coast game."

Kick-off is at 16:30 (SA time).


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