THE South African men’s senior football team, Bafana Bafana, are rearing to give their opponents
a tough time in the 2018 installment of The Council of Southern Africa Football Associations (COSAFA) which is currently underway in Polokwane, Limpopo.
Bafana Bafana, who assembled in Johannesburg and are now camping in Polokwane, will enter the two-week regional tournament in the quarter final stages on Sunday to clash with the winner of group A because they are one of the highest ranked national teams participating at the tournament.
Coach Stuart Baxter’s men have been given a bye in the first round. Baxter’s charges, who mostly featured regularly in the recently concluded South Africa’s elite league, means that the coach managed to pick one of the most exciting squads in the history of the Cosafa tournament.
“This is an interesting, ambitious and very promising group of young players. We need to work on our structure to get them to know each other so that they know the common strategy after that they would be ready to put their own signatures on their own performances,” said Baxter.
According to the former Supersport and Kaizer Chiefs mentor, with a squad of new young players and a week to prepare, it should be easy to get the structure right.
“We are expected to win with one week in training. Getting this kind of squad together and getting seven days is a victory already. If we can meet each other half way it could be a good Cosafa for a change,” said the Baxter.
Bafana might play one of the African Nations Cup qualifier opponents competing in Group
A, Seychelles, in the quarterfinal.
The other three they might face in the competition are Comoros‚ Madagascar or Mozambique‚ most likely one of the latter two with Mozambique winning on Tuesday night in Seshego to redeem their 2-1 loss to Madagascar in the opening match last Sunday.
“The games have been interesting so far with some of them being physical but I don’t want to go overboard with meticulous examinations of the opponents. We must concentrate on our own strategies this week. No matter whom we play its going to be a tough match,” he said.
The Cosafa Cup will also be an excellent chance for Baxter to scout the Seychelles side‚ who Bafana will play in back-to back African Cup of Nations qualifier match in October, and are unlikely to be changed much from the full-strength side they have brought to Polokwane.
Baxter has hinted to using the tournament to blood new players at senior level‚ hoping to find players ahead of the AFCON tournament this coming September.
“If I had to guess for a team after the two sessions I’ve had. I don’t think there would be one or two players different to the one who starts with the game. Maybe one or two will impress me in the week but I think I have a decent idea now of the starting line-up,” said the mentor.
Meanwhile, Siyanda Xulu will don the armband in the tournament. The former Kaizer Chiefs player who had a stellar recently concluded season at Maritzburg United could not hide his excitement about the opportunity to captain the squad.
“It was a very huge surprise when the coach named me the captain. Coming back here is me saying to myself, ‘let me just learn new things from the other guys, let me reset my international career’. It was me trying to refocus on my game, and the captaincy is not something I really expected,” the player said.