Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has admitted that they will encounter problems when they face Nigeria today in an Africa Cup of Nations qualifier after identifying three key qualities of the Super Eagles that can hurt his team.
The former England U-19 boss has designed a game plan that will neutralise the strengths of the Super Eagles.
‘’It’ll be a very tough game, Nigeria are a good team. They will create problems for us so many levels, physically, tactically, technically,” said Baxter.
‘’If we stretch ourselves and we play to the best of our ability and implement our game plan, then I think we will give them problems. If they don’t then they will have a problem with us.”
Baxter highlighted the fact that South Africa were able to beat Nigeria in Uyo last year because they were disciplined.
‘’We went there, we played very tactically disciplined. That was pleasing for me to see a South African team play as tactically disciplined.
‘’We have to play as tactically disciplined in this game because we are at home, we need to win, we won’t be on the back foot hopefully, and if we are we have to deal with that but it won’t be a choice.”
The South Africa National Team trained at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg on Friday morning ahead of the eagerly anticipated AFCON qualifier against Nigeria.
Meanwhile, SAFA technical director Neil Tovey is quietly optimistic over Bafana Bafana’s chances against Nigeria but admits previous results have added unnecessary pressure ahead of today’s clash.
The two countries meet in a top-of-the-table Group E 2019 African Nations Cup qualifier, where a win for the hosts will secure a spot at the continental tournament in Cameroon, while a draw or loss will make next year’s clash against Libya the deciding contest.
Tovey, who captained South Africa to AFCON glory in 1996, feels confident ahead of the encounter, insisting that the nature of the opposition will motivate the players to lift their game.
“I’m more confident against Nigeria than I am against anyone else because I know the mentality will change as the players know they’re up against it.
“Your mentality comes from your approach and everything. So this might drive them a bit more, from a mental point, into a team dynamic. But I think where we are really lacking is in big-game moments, not taking those chances that happened against Seychelles – a big-game moment is when you’re under the crossbar, and you put the ball into the net.”
Looking at Bafana’s overall qualification campaign so far, which includes two wins and two draws from the four games played, Tovey said he wished the team was in a better position, especially following the goalless draw against minnows Seychelles last time out.
“It’s been a rollercoaster ride,” he says. “After four games, and after the two Seychelles games, we should have been a lot closer to qualifying. Home and away at Seychelles, we should have really done the job. But you get matches where you just don’t put the ball across the goal line – I don’t think it had anything to do with tactics. On the day, if you don’t take your chances, it makes it all the more difficult, and it gives a team like Seychelles the confidence to lift their game. But if we had scored the first goal, I think it would have been another case of 4 or 5-0 – we just needed that first goal, which never came about through the inability to concentrate at the vital time.”
Libya currently sit four points behind Bafana, yet are expected to do the job away at Seychelles this afternoon, and will have the slight advantage in the final group qualifier at home to South Africa.