Bafana Bafana start to take shape ahead of Afcon

South Africa head coach Stuart Baxter speaks to the players during the South African national men's soccer team training session at Steyn City School on June 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
South Africa head coach Stuart Baxter speaks to the players during the South African national men's soccer team training session at Steyn City School on June 05, 2019 in Johannesburg, South Africa.
Image: Lefty Shivambu/Gallo Images

Bafana Bafana are working on structure and formations in the Dubai leg of their preparations for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) in Egypt‚ South Africa assistant-coach Molefi Ntseki has said.

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Ntseki said the sweltering heat in Dubai‚ where Bafana meet Ghana in a pre-Afcon warm-up friendly on Saturday‚ will serve as a good precursor for Egypt‚ which is apparently mildly less hot in the northern hemisphere mid-summer.

In Bafana’s South African leg of their preparation camp at Steyn City School last week the emphasis was on bringing players with various degrees of fitness and niggling injuries from staggered ends to their seasons in the PSL and Europe to a uniform level.

In Dubai‚ the squad is concentrating increasingly on tactical work.

“We travelled very well to Dubai. And when I look back‚ I can see there is a lot improvement in terms of our team preparation for the Afcon‚” Ntseki said.

“ … For now‚ we are where we are because of a structured‚ detailed preparation that we have gone through.

“ … Coming to the team now‚ we are in Dubai where we will have three sessions before we play a friendly against Ghana.

“The weather conditions here are boiling hot. And these are the conditions we expect in Egypt.

“On the tactical side‚ the coaches are working on the structure‚ the team discipline‚ the formations. Because we are going to play teams who are also very structured.

“What is important is for us to have a tactical endurance in terms of how we want to play‚ how we want to attack and defend; how we want to attack set plays‚ how we want to defend set plays. And overall the open game that we want to have on the day.

“The guys have responded very positively to the plan and the programme.

"We’re all looking forward to the first game‚ and see how best we can try to maximise the points [we’ve worked on] in the three games‚ and see ourselves in the last-16. And if we get there we can easily go all the way.

“But what’s important is the tactical cohesion the coach [Stuart Baxter] has emphasised. From what I’ve seen with the crop of players we have is that they are up for the challenge and looking forward to doing well in Egypt.”

The third and final leg of the South Africans’ preparation camps is in Egypt‚ where they are due to meet Angola in a second warm-up match on Wednesday.

Bafana open their tournament against Ivory Coast in Cairo on Monday‚ June 24. Namibia and Morocco complete Group D.

The South Africans travelled to Dubai from Johannesburg on Tuesday.

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