South Africa went down 2-1 to Cape Verde in Praia on Friday night.
“First half we get our noses in front, I think we need quite good control of the game. We had period of about 20 minutes where I said to the players, we need to stay through to ourselves. We went into sort of a back foot mood, not taking responsibility of the ball, losing the ball too easily. I think the importance of the game affected some of the players and they didn’t reach their normal standard,” Baxter told the media after the game.
“We opened the game quite well and we go a goal. We were threatening to get our combination play going and when they sort of threaten us, especially when they scored and they scored, disappointingly, we had a good opportunity to score from the other end and we lost the ball. They counted us and it’s a little bit sloppy…deflection. I don’t think we reacted well from the 1-1 goal,” added the Bafana mentor.
Baxter refused to blame the artificial pitch for his team’s loss to Cape Verde.
“I think when we came out in the second half we showed that we could play in this pitch. It was more of the attitude problem than with tactical or technical problem. The players that didn’t play well in the first half, played better in the second half. Even when Tower [Eric Mathoho] was sent off, we still created chances and they didn’t.
“We could make the referee the villain or the ball boys, but that’s just excuses. The real thing was us. We didn’t play at the right level. I don’t know if the penalty was the penalty. I don’t want to make that a reason. We couldn’t respond. They’re obviously not happy, the players, they’re hurting,” concluded Baxter.