Baxter not too worried by the SA squad's performance in the Cosafa Cup

Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter.
Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter.
Image: Sydney Mahlangu/BackpagePix

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is not too worried by the performance of the South African squad that crashed out of the Cosafa Cup at the weekend.

The squad coached by SA under-23 coach David Notoane bombed out of the main draw of the Cosafa Cup and was relegated to the plate section of the tournament after suffering a 5-4 defeat (2-2 after regulation time) on penalties to Botswana in the quarterfinals in Durban on Sunday.

The South Africans will now take on Uganda in the plate semifinals at the Princess Magogo Stadium on Tuesday.

Baxter said Notoane’s side was experimental and he was not surprised that they struggled to gel at times during their first match together in Durban.

‘‘I think it is a little bit understandable‚” the Briton said.

‘‘You know they played quite well at times. And then a more intimidating team on set-plays..... we just couldn’t cope with them.

‘‘I think it’s quite understandable. David thought that the lads tired towards the end.”

The Cosafa Cup squad was selected by Notoane with a focus on his under-23 players while Baxter concentrated on the senior national team’s preparations ahead of their participation in the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt.

The first-ever 24-team Afcon tournament gets underway from June 21 to July 19.

Bafana have been drawn in Group D where they will face Ivory Coast‚ Morocco and Namibia.

Baxter’s charges face the Ivorians in their first match on June 24 in Cairo‚ followed the outings against regional neighbours Namibia at the same venue on June 28.

SA’s last group match is against the Moroccans on July 1.

Baxter held the first training session with his provisional 30-man Egypt-bound squad in Johannesburg on Monday while Notoane continued to prepare his side ahead of Tuesday’s semifinal against Uganda.

The Briton said they foresaw the teething problems in the Cosafa Cup side as Notoane was continuing to assess some of the players.

‘‘I thought (the team’s performance) was more because we threw together a few players and tested a few‚ and the structure disintegrated a little bit in the second half‚“ he said.

‘‘That’s why we probably worked a little bit harder than we should have done.

‘‘But when I was down there (in Durban) some of the players looked quite interesting.

‘‘At times it looked quite good but I think David has got an opportunity to put down a tighter structure and also they can do some work on things like set-plays.

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