Bafana coach Baxter raves about SA's Egypt-based teenage sensation

Coach Stuart Baxter of Bafana Bafana during the South African national mens soccer team media briefing at Southern Sun Hotel on March 19, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Coach Stuart Baxter of Bafana Bafana during the South African national mens soccer team media briefing at Southern Sun Hotel on March 19, 2018 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Sydney Seshibedi/Gallo Images

Gift Links's bright debut for Bafana Bafana in their 4-1 Plate semifinal win against Namibia at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night will be one of the highlights of this Cosafa Cup for South Africa.

The disappointment of the penalties quarterfinal defeat against Madagascar and Bafana dropping to the Plate section for a second year aside‚ this tournament‚ with a young squad‚ was about introducing and identifying potential senior team talent.

Links - the 19-year-old who plays for Alassiouty Sport in Egypt‚ where he was signed after impressing for Platinum Stars in the 2017 Caf Confederation Cup - showed some superb touches‚ pieces of skill and vision on the right wing that were instrumental in putting Bafana on the front foot against Namibia.

Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was impressed.

"Gift did very‚ very well‚" the coach said.

"He's not been with us very long.

"And I thought even in the first half he was flashing in and out a bit because his position‚ partly‚ in our pressing was a little bit too deep.

"And partly when we got the ball on the far side his position in the pocket‚ so he could get the ball and turn people‚ he was drifting onto them a bit where he had to be very tight with his control. Which he was sometimes and that's what made him very good.

"But Gift did himself no harm at all. In the second half he tired and he got a bit sloppy.

"You know‚ players‚ when they get on the far side and they're not right in front of you [the coach]‚ they don't have you reminding them all the time‚ they can get a bit sloppy.

"But I thought overall he did well for us."

Links played five league games for Platinum in 2016-17‚ and five more in the Confed‚ before being snapped up by Alassiouty.

Bafana meet Botswana‚ 2-0 winners against Swaziland in their semifinal‚ in the Plate final at Peter Mokaba Stadium at 3pm on Friday.

* Marc Strydom is in Polokwane as a guest of Cosafa

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