Bafana Bafana head coach Stuart Baxter believes his charges are not yet ready to face Zambia in the first leg of the 2018 CHAN qualifier that will be played on Saturday, 12 August 2017 at Buffalo City Stadium in East London.
Baxter says this is because of the many withdrawals that have befallen his squad but he adds that they will be ready by the time the match starts.
Bafana Bafana held their first training session in East London on Thursday afternoon (10 August) at the match venue.
Having their base camp in Johannesburg with 22 players, Baxter has added two more players – defender Shane Thompson of Mthatha Bucks as well Kaizer Chiefs midfielder Wiseman Meyiwa, who was part of the squad that played in the 2017 FIFA U20 World Cup in Korea.
Thompson arrived on time to attend the first training session at Buffalo City Stadium, while Meyiwa was expected to join his compatriots in the evening, and will attend the final workout on Friday morning (11 August).
“We have done what we can with the constraints that we have and we will go into the game with a positive attitude. Given the fact that Zambia will come here with probably their best team, we are under no illusion that it is going to be a difficult game,” said Baxter.
“If you looked at the Nigerian team on paper and looked at our team on paper it was probably only the 25 in the dressing room in Uyo that believed that we could win the game – Mandela said it seems impossible until it is done. We are not ready yet but we will be by the time the match kicks off on Saturday.”
The Bafana Bafana mentor says his biggest challenge is to get his team to gel.
“First we have to focus on making our squad a team first, that’s the biggest thing. You bring them in from all over the country and have a couple of training sessions and they have to try and become a team. It’s not impossible, we must just get them on the same page. We have to give them that sense of security so that they go out there and express themselves individually. But it becomes difficult when you have players coming in and going out, but that’s our challenge and we have to deal with it.
Bafana Bafana and Chipolopolo face off at 15h00. Zambia arrived in East London on Thursday and will train at the match venue on Friday.