Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter has heaped praise on his charges for a fine display, which led to South Africa defeating a stubborn Botswana 2-0 in a 2018 African Nations Championship qualifier.
The first leg fixture was played on Saturday, 15 July 2017 at the Francistown Stadium in Botswana.
The home side had more ball possession as they tried to take the game to the visitors but Baxter’s men were firm in the execution of their duties.
“It was a hard fought game, even though I thought we had a good control of the game for the 90 minutes. Botswana played well with the ball, and we knew that away from home we needed to take a result back to South Africa. Once we scored the goal it became a question of can they pick their way through us when we are organised or can we hit them when they are a little bit disorganized, and, if I am being honest, we were closer to getting another goal than they were to reducing the deficit,” said Baxter.
“I was pleased with the way the players performed and I am also pleased that the younger ones got some experience, and they were outstanding too. I think Teboho Mokoena was very, very good. I thought that a couple of experienced ones, captain Mario Booysen and Cole Alexander were very good too, and obviously delighted with the two nil win away from home at a difficult place like Botswana.”
Ryan Moon scored the opening goal on his Bafana Bafana debut while Gift Motupa grabbed the second. Baxter says he has been impressed by the way his players were organised throughout the match.
“The players kept shape throughout the match and they knew what to do to win the match here in Botswana, which is difficult especially because we have just beaten them in the COSAFA, so I just think it is just impressive that the players have played in that way. They kept to the instructions very well,” said Baxter.
The Bafana Bafana mentor says the win takes nothing from their intent when it comes to development – their mission is to give international experience to the players, and they will not sway from it.
“We have a lot of respect for the CHAN tournament, just like we had for the COSAFA CUP, but South Africa, and that is no disrespect to anyone, is using this event more as a development tournament. If we would have lost today (Saturday), the main point of the event for us would have been to try to give international experience to players like Teboho Mokoena, introduce Cole Alexander, Jamie Webber and in that way hopefully it will serve South African football,” said Baxter.
“Also, every time they put on the national team jersey I want them to win, even in Rustenburg we will change the team, we may change the formation, but we won’t change the attitude that every time you put on the jersey you should try to win. In that way, they will hopefully get developed.”
Bafana Bafana return home on Monday, and will proceed directly to Rustenburg to set up camp for the second leg, which will take place on Saturday, 22 July at the Moruleng Stadium. Kickoff is at 15h00.
Meanwhile defender Malebogo Modise is undergoing treatment after being stretchered off with an ankle injury, which is not as serious as initially thought.
He had come on as a replacement for Riyaad Norodien in the late stages of the game and lasted only six minutes. Sphelele Ntshangase took his place. He is expected to be back at training on Monday.