Stuart Baxter has gained information in the Cosafa Cup that can stand the Bafana Bafana coach in good stead for future selections‚ he said after South Africa finished fifth with a 1-0 win against Namibia on Friday evening.
Baxter’s young‚ patched-up tournament hosts‚ made up of Under-20 internationals with a few Premier Soccer League players on the fringes of Bafana selection thrown in‚ lost 1-0 against Tanzania in the quarter-finals‚ then beat Botswana 2-0 in the plate semifinals.
They had to fight for their win against Namibia Friday’s plate final at Moruleng Stadium‚ Maritzburg United forward Mohau Mokate’s deflected shot from range earning a 36th-minute winner.
Baxter was cautious in his assessment of which players from this makeshift squad with a strong emphasis on development might be in Bafana contention any time soon.
But he said he felt the tournament in the North West was a worthwhile exercise for South Africa in grooming future players for senior football.
I challenged the players with three different ways of playing – we played 4-2-3-1 against Tanzania‚ 4-3-3 against Botswana and 4-4-2 against Namibia‚ and I was doing that to test my players‚” the new Bafana coach said.
“Against Botswana it took a while before we could play with our two strikers and support them properly. But I thought once we started playing‚ we controlled the game quite well.
“We can’t be happy when we don’t win a tournament‚ but this week in general has given me a lot of information‚ and that will help me in the future selections.
“Remember that we decided with Safa that we will make the most of the Cosafa CUP and Chan (African Nations Championship) matches. We agreed that we will base both competitions with the U-20 squad and strengthen it with a few PSL players where we can because there are also some players we want to check out there too
“So that’s the positive – but the fact that we did not go further in the Codafa Cup is not.
“All the information is useful especially in terms of the collective‚ but in terms of individuals maybe I don’t know a lot more than I knew. One good sight (against Namibia) was young Sandile (Mthethwa) coming in and doing very well.
“I don’t like singling players out – he slotted into a back four that was under constant pressure but he stood his ground nicely. So yes‚ there is some useful information that we got‚ but I think they all have a lot of hard work to do.”
Baxter’s next task is in the Chan qualifiers‚ where‚ fielding a similar developmental line-up‚ Bafana meet Botswana in the second round away on July 15 and home on July 22.