4 September 2017

Africa: Make or Break for Baxter's Men At Home

Photo: jit_bag/Flickr
Moses Mabhida Stadium (file photo).

South Africa coach, Stuart Baxter, is expected to make a few changes in Tuesday's 2018 FIFA World Cup Russia qualifier Day Four clash against Cape Verde in Durban.

Baxter's men play host to the Blue Sharks and go into the match knowing that anything less than a victory could see them miss out on yet another appearance in the global showpiece.

Bafana Bafana suffered a shock 2-1 defeat against the Islanders in Praia last Friday, a result that has blown the group wide open after Senegal and Burkina Faso settled for a barren draw 24-hours later in Dakar.

An all-out attack is the only option for Baxter and his men and this will most likely see him introducing the likes of Thulani Serero, Kamohelo Mokotjo and Kermit Erasmus to add the much-needed firepower upfront which seemed to be lacking in Praia.

They will have to be wary of the dangerous trio of Ryan Mendes, Jiago Almeida and Nuno Rocha, who grabbed a brace on the day.

A change is definitely expected at the back four after Kazier Chiefs midfielder, Eric Mathoho, was sent off for a reckless foul in the first leg. Veteran Morgan Gould is expected to fill the gap and has to silence his critics following his return to the national team set up.

"It is definitely going to be an open game considering Cape Verde would be more confident from the result. I foresee a highly competitive game but we have to be more clinical in front of goal. We have the backing of our supporters and it is now in our hands that we do the job at home" said Baxter.

Bafana will draw a bit of solace from the fact that neither Senegal or Burkina Faso could get a win in their fixture meaning that a top finish is up for the taking for anyone who wins their remaining matches.

"We felt deflated by the defeat to Cape Verde but the following day's result threw a huge lifeline for us. We are aware of what is expected of us on Tuesday. In football, there are strange twists and turns but you don't want to leave it to fate. As things stand, the destiny remains in our hands" said a confident Baxter.

Should the South Africans bounce back and avenge their defeat, they will go top of the group with 7 points until the outcome of the Senegal and Burkina Faso match.

Bafana Bafana captain, Thulani Hlatshwayo, says even though they have themselves to blame for putting themselves under unnecessary pressure, it is still possible to finish top of Group D.

"Everything is possible in football. It has been long since we last qualified for the World Cup and if we do so, it will give the nation a massive lift" said Hlatshwayo.


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