Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter hopes to have all his players in camp this morning as they begin their preparations for a crucial Caf Africa Cup of Nations qualifier against Nigeria, set for the FNB Stadium on Saturday afternoon.
The match against the Super Eagles has grown in importance after they let slip and played draws with Libya at home and lowly Seychelles away. There were no serious injuries reported yesterday as the team assembled for camp.
“We had some scares (at the weekend). Ronwen Williams has a slight knee strain, so he won’t train for 48 hours but we think he’ll be okay. Thulani Serero has an ankle gash, had stitches, but should be in full training tomorrow,” said Baxter yesterday.
When he announced the squad, Baxter made it clear they are going for the three points to get back to the top in Group E, where they now trail the Super Eagles by a point despite their brilliant start to the campaign.
The Super Eagles will come with all guns blazing after they were embarrassed in front of their own fans as a buzzing Bafana surprised many by running out 2-0 winners in Uyo. But Gernot Rhor’s side have improved since then with wins over Libya and Seychelles taking them to the top of the group. A win over Bafana here will guarantee the Nigerians their place in Cameroon for next year’s Afcon.
Rhor has been quoted in Nigerian media as saying the loss to Bafana was still painful despite winning all three of their qualifying games after that.
“The defeat still hurts and we want to take revenge for it. They beat us with strong counter-attacks in Uyo. We dominated the game and actually played quite well in the first half, but didn’t score. And then they attacked us on the counter, one towards the end when we pressed for the equaliser,” Rhor was quoted as saying by Nigerian publications.
Bafana are, meanwhile, set for a friendly against Paraguay on November 20, three days after the Nigeria match in a Nelson Mandela Challenge match at Durban’s Moses Mabhida Stadium.
Baxter said the team will only think about this match after the final whistle at the FNB Stadium on Saturday.
“Preparations for the Nelson Mandela Challenge will only start the moment our game with Nigeria game is over. We won’t cloud the skies at all by thinking about Paraguay. We’ll be focused on Nigeria,” he said.