Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter wants proper Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) preparations following the draw on Friday in which South Africa were drawn in Group D together with Morocco, Ivory Coast and neighbours Namibia.
Briefing journalists on his take about the draw on Saturday (13 April 2019), the Bafana Bafana mentor said it was a good and exciting draw but the bottom line was for the team to have good preparations.
He said the draw gave the team a great challenge and would want to make the country proud adding that all games were winnable. He said no team in the group would also feel comfortable meeting Bafana Bafana in the tournament.
Baxter said he would now open talks with the clubs which will enable him to find the exact date in which to name his squad before embarking on proper preparations.
“When I say it is a good group, it is a great challenge for the group of players we have at the moment and their development. It is a group we can really have a go at without any feeling of inhibitions,” he said adding while there are certain groups which look easier on paper, he thinks both Morocco and Ivory Coast would not feel secure meeting South Africa.
“They will also feel we are a dangerous opponent. In the same breath, we should not discount Namibia considering the (Impressive) way they qualified, they will not be an easy target for anybody.”
“So in terms of this group, I think it is a difficult one but a good one,” said Baxter who said he will now start to negotiate with clubs to find out when he can get the players released.“We need to have these type of negotiations (with the clubs) because it has been a long hard season and we don’t want to abuse the players and burn them out. We want both club and country to benefit from this exercise.”Baxter said he had been in talks with a few Middle East countries to see if Bafana Bafana can’t set camp there, somewhere closer to Egypt, have a couple of friendlies before getting to the tournament.
He, however, said nothing was finalised but that was the rough planning he had so far.
Bafana Bafana open their AFCON programme with a match against Ivory Coast on 24 June in Cairo before playing at the same venue on 28 June against Namibia. They then round off the group matches with a match against Morocco on 1 July.