Bafana win relieves coach Baxter

Bafana's Lebohang Maboe dribbles past Itamunua Keimuine and Welwin Gebhardt of Namibia.
Bafana's Lebohang Maboe dribbles past Itamunua Keimuine and Welwin Gebhardt of Namibia.
Image: ANTONIO MUCHAVE

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has acknowledged that his team enjoy playing against sides who are open against them, but need a better strategy against opposition who sit back.

Bafana's chameleon-like nature has been on show again at the Cosafa Cup in Polokwane. Bafana bowed to a penalties defeat in their quarterfinal against a defensive, physical Madagascar.

When the pressure was off, Bafana flourished against a more open Namibia, to run out somewhat stylish 4-1 Plate semifinal winners at the Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Tuesday night.

It was put to Baxter that not just Bafana, but the team's coaches, tend to withdraw into safer tactics when the pressure is on, then allow for expression when it is not.

"I don't think it's got to do with coaches playing safe. Against Madagascar we didn't really have an orthodox right-back," Baxter said.

"We tried to play with Siyanda Xulu as a right-back, and invert it a bit and allow [left-back] Aubrey Modiba to go high.

"What that did was that he [Xulu] cut the pitch, and then Ryan Moon came off the line to cut the pitch, and then Lebohang Maboe wasn't in the form he was in against Namibia, holding his pocket against Madagascar, so he came inside looking for the ball."

Baxter was relieved to win so convincingly against Namibia, with a brace from Maboe, a penalty from Modiba and a rare Xulu goal. He felt the combination from the youngsters helped make bringing an emerging team to the Cosafa more worthwhile.

Meanwhile, Banyana Banyana beat Lesotho 1-0 in the first leg of their CAF Women Championship qualifier at Setsotso Stadium, Maseru, yesterday.

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