It’s full steam ahead for Bafana Bafana in Dubai as they prepare for the 2019 African Cup of Nations, but Stuart Baxter insists their long unbeaten run shouldn’t see them ranked among the favourites.
South Africa’s senior national team haven’t lost a game under Stuart Baxter since November 2017 when they were beaten 2-1 by Senegal, and qualified for this year’s AFCON unbeaten and with just two goals conceded from their six games played.
Bafana extended their unbeaten run on Saturday when Baxter mixed things up in a pre-AFCON friendly against Ghana’s Black Stars, with the game ending 0-0 after the coach had used practically all 23 of the players currently on camp in the Middle East.
While speaking to media after the game, the coach was asked whether his side should be considered as one of the favourites for the competition, to which he replied, “No, not at all… This is a team in reconstruction. Ok, tonight we haven’t lost again, and we haven’t lost for about a year and a half, so that’s encouraging. But to call us one of the favourites, that would be ridiculous.
“I think you’ve got teams like Cameroon, Nigeria, Egypt, Ghana, Ivory Coast, Morocco, who will all feel like they’ve got a better chance than us.”
Just because they’re not favourites though, Baxter says they’re looking to make an impact in Egypt, saying, “What we need to do is keep improving, play our game with confidence, and not show an exaggerated respect for everybody. We’ve got to go there believing we have a chance to win, and if you win a couple of games then suddenly the whole thing leads its own life.”
Bafana flies to Egypt tomorrow, and will play Angola on Wednesday in another friendly before their first game against Ivory Coast next week.