Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter said the general talk by the public of underestimating Namibia is very dangerous in the modern world of football where no team should be considered minnows anymore.
Speaking at a pre-match press conference ahead of Friday’s must win game against neighbours Namibia at Al Salam Stadium in Cairo, Baxter said Namibia had given Morocco a good run worth their money and no team which qualified for AFCON must be underrated.
Both Namibia and Bafana Bafana lost their opening games and the two will go all out for a win in Friday’s encounter. Namibia were close to holding mighty Morocco to a goalless draw before an own on the 89th minute denied them what could have been a credible draw. On the other end, South Africa went down 1-0 to a 63rd minute goal by Jonathan Kadjia and tomorrow’s COSAFA derby will be as tantalising as they come.
Baxter however, is cautious about people writing off Namibia, calling such talk as disrespectful of a team that has done well in qualifying for Africa’s premier event. The Bafana Bafana coach was also not amused by what media said were negative sentiments by fans back home.
“Ivory Coast is the first game we have lost in one-and-half years and talking of dismantling Namibia is totally disrespectful towards a team that qualified for AFCON and ran Morocco very, very close.
“Yes, our strikers didn’t fire on the day and we didn’t create a lot of goal chances. Even then, Tyson (Thulani Hlatshwayo) had a good chance, Percy (Tau) went through and could have had a penalty. We had chances but they were not enough for us,” he said.
“I do understand the mood back home but that is nothing new and let’s be honest, that was a top team (Ivory Coast) we were playing. There were some positives but we were not really happy with our overall performance and yes, this (Namibia game) is a massive game for us.
“The onus is on us to produce good football. If we play the way we are capable of, we can win the game but I will not come here and disrespect our opponents,” he said.
The match kicks off at 22h00 when temperatures have cooled a bit; a complete opposite of Monday’s boiling temperatures in the Egyptian capital.
South Africa’s last game of Group D is against Morocco on 1 July and kicks off at 18h00.