Baxter decries disconnect between national team, supporters ahead of Afcon

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter.

A part of Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter regrets that there is a growing disconnect between the supporters and the national team.

Bafana left for Dubai on Sunday without having held a training session open to the public or a friendly at home ahead of the Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon).

They will spend the week in Dubai before flying out to Egypt for the tournament. The team has been in camp in Fourways before departing and have been utilising training fields at the uber-luxurious Steyn City.

“I am disappointed. It would have been nice to have that interaction with the fans and to put ourselves on the line in a friendly so that we know what we are working on going forward,” Baxter said.

“But the world is not perfect so I have to get on with it. We have done as best we can. All I can say is that we must move on because [there are] important things ahead.”

Despite the perceived detachment, the team carry the hopes of the nation at the Afcon tournament starting on June 21.

The final 23-man squad was announced at the weekend where Kermit Erasmus, Fortune Makaringe and Ben Motshwari failed to make the cut.

Baxter admits that it was difficult to trim the squad and had words of encouragement for the trio.

“To be part of the squad I think it is an accomplishment on its own and I hope they see it like that. I hope they see it as a step in the right direction for their careers. They have all been excellent in camp and hope it won’t make them put their heads down.”

The Brit believes the final team he selected is the best possible group he could have chosen.

“We have tried to put together a balanced squad that gives us options tactically. The strength of the squad is its togetherness.”  

Bafana’s two only friendly games will be against Ghana in Dubai on Saturday and Angola on June 19 in Cairo. They will face Ivory Coast in their opening match in Group D on June 24.

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