'We can't park the bus against Libya‚' says Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter

Coach Stuart Baxter during the South African national men's soccer team departure press conference at Southern Sun, OR Tambo on March 16, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Coach Stuart Baxter during the South African national men's soccer team departure press conference at Southern Sun, OR Tambo on March 16, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Johan Rynners/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana need to try to take their qualifier against Libya in Tunisia on Sunday by the scruff of the neck with an aggressive gameplan‚ imposing themselves rather than trying to defend‚ national coach Stuart Baxter has said.

Second-placed South Africa (nine points) need a draw from their final Group E qualifier in Sfax to reach Egypt 2019‚ and third-placed Libya (seven points) need a win.

Leaders Nigeria‚ on 10 points‚ have qualified.

Playing for a draw can lead to confusion in approach‚ even subliminally.

Bafana can be a brittle team – they beat Nigeria away for a first competitive victory against the Super Eagles‚ and drew away against Seychelles in this one schizophrenic qualifying campaign.

So‚ even if South Africa have gone unbeaten and conceded just one goal – in the 1-1 draw against Nigeria in Johannesburg – going to North Africa to defend against a Libya who penetrated Bafana with a dangerous counterattack in the 0-0 draw in Durban would be foolhardy.

Baxter said he wants an aggressive approach‚ trying to control the game and leaving as little as possible to chance in Sfax.

“I think we can go there and defend‚ but I don’t think we can go there and park the bus and think we’re going to stay in our own defending zone for 90 minutes‚” the coach said.

“I don’t think that’s the sort of mentality we have; I don’t think it’s the sort of team we have.

“I think the gameplan has to be quite aggressive.

"I think it has to be with a great attention to our defending‚ without having that impact negatively on our desire to get at them and at their throat every time we can.

“It’s also a difficult one to answer because you don’t know how Libya are thinking.

“They may be thinking‚ ‘Well‚ for goodness sake‚ don’t go all gung-ho in the first half-hour so that they [Bafana] turn us [Libya] over and score. So should we build into it?’

“Or‚ should they be very emotional and come flying at us.

“We’ve got to have a gameplan for no matter what they do. And I think we can.”

SA have been based in capital Tunis since their arrival on Sunday‚ and are training their until Thursday‚ when they will take a 270-kilometre bus trip to Sfax and have two training sessions in two days at the match venue‚ the 25‚000-seater Stade Taïeb Mhiri.

This was due to inadequate training facilities in Sfax.

Libya‚ who have to play in neighbouring Tunisia due to the unstable security situation in their country‚ have been based in Sousse‚ 130km from Sfax.

Would you like to comment on this article or view other readers' comments? Register (it’s quick and free) or sign in now.

Speech Bubbles

Please read our Comment Policy before commenting.