Sibongiseni Gumbi
Football Writer
2 minute read
14 Nov 2017
9:54 am

Baxter wants Bafana to play for the shirt

Sibongiseni Gumbi

Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter says players should be motivated by wearing the national team shirt when they play Senegal in their final 2018 Fifa World Cup qualifier in Dakar this evening.

Stuart Baxter, coach of South Africa (Muzi Ntombela/BackpagePix)

Bafana lost 2-0 at home to Senegal on Friday, a result that sent Senegal through to Russia 2018, and ended Bafana Bafana’s chances of qualification.

Baxter now has the challenge of getting his team to put on a good performance in tonight’s match, with little to play for but pride.

“I don’t think you should need to motivate players to play for their country,” said Baxter.

READ: Masinga wants Baxter to continue as Bafana coach

He hinted that he might give the younger players in the team a run in Dakar as he now seeks to revamp the team going forward.

“Basically anybody that’s picked should give their best … every international fixture is important, especially a World Cup match. Let’s say a player like Phakamani (Mahlambi) scores three goals in a ‘meaningless’ fixture, how do you think that affects his international future?

“That’s going to be the rhetoric I will direct at them because we are playing for both pride and our futures. Wearing the shirt, the badge, you have to make it mean something. I have to make sure we play as well as we can. Is it easy? No. But we have to,” he said.

Baxter said a win away against a side of Senegal’s calibre could be just what they need going forward. “It’s important to finish on a high. To take a scalp like Senegal’s away could be good, like in the Nigeria game. It creates such a good platform going forward.”

Despite the result, Baxter still feels Friday’s performance was good and could be built upon.

“Friday’s match showed in many aspects that we are on the right path. It showed we can match the best on the continent when we do things properly. This match and the last few also showed that we can also shoot ourselves in the foot and be vulnerable. We have to become more consistent and more clinical in front of goal. That is something we have suffered for a long time both in the domestic game and at international level.

“I liked the way we played but it’s difficult to promote that when we didn’t win.”

READ: Baxter says he’ll leave if Bafana fail to qualify for Afcon