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Baxter ranks victory over Nigeria as his personal best

By Marc Strydomin Uyo, Nigeria | 2017-06-12 08:09:31.0

Bafana Bafana's first competitive win against Nigeria in Stuart Baxter's first match as new coach ranks as his best internationally, he said.

Baxter's second tenure got off the best possible start with a 2-0 victory against the Super Eagles in Saturday's 2019 Africa Cup of Nations qualifier in Uyo, Nigeria.

Tokelo Rantie put Bafana ahead in the 56th minute, substitute Percy Tau made it 2-0 in the 80th, and it could have been more with Themba Zwane hitting the upright twice.

"I said to the players in the dressing room after the game, 'I've drawn 1-1 in Germany with Finland, when they equalised with the last kick of the game'," Baxter said.

"I said, 'I took a third-string South Africa to the [Concacaf Gold Cup] in the US [in 2005], and beat Mexico. And those two have been the most satisfactory performances I've had at national level, until tonight [on Saturday]'.

"Because it was in the back yard of a team we could never beat. I know how much that means to everybody back home. I know that I've only just walked in, and the players have grabbed everything that we've said. And yes it was not perfect in the first half, but it was bloody near-perfect in the second because Nigeria couldn't get near us."

South Africa naturally struggled for full cohesiveness in the first half, but battled to the break goalless, and with Zwane having hit the post for the first time after Nigeria goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi fumbled.

Baxter said keeping the crowd quiet, allowed SA to let the training they had done working in confined spaces, and for the counter-attack, to kick in.

The signs had been there that Bafana were confident of ending their 25-year drought against Nigeria in competitive games. Their only other win also came under Baxter, in a friendly at Ellis Park in 2004. With Libya beating Seychelles 5-1 Bafana are in second place in Group E on goal difference.