SA’s longest game

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July 7, 2017
SA’s longest game

KEEPING COOL: Bafana coach Stuart Baxter

investment gamble in players could pay off

Stuart  Baxter must feel like he is hitting his head against a brick wall after taking over at Bafana Bafana.
Same s***, different day.

After leaving the job 12 years ago, he must be wondering how little has changed.

And I’m not talking about goals. Every football coach in the world wants his team to put away every chance they create.

What really got to him in the Cosafa Cup was PSL clubs’ reluctance to make players available for the tournament.

The coach gave a polite “thank you” to the clubs that did send the players. But he didn’t get the ones he wanted.

They had every right not to make the players available, with the tournament being outside of the Fifa international calendar.

But what good does it do for the esteem of the national team when they don’t have the best or at least the next best players donning the shirt?

What good does it do for them when their players don’t get to play at a more challenging level?

In the end, Baxter had to cover it all up by saying that this tournament would be used as a development exercise.

It was a way for the coach to save face. And it showed once Bafana were knocked out of the tournament at the very first hurdle.

Baxter would have found some positives though.

Bafana pretty much dominated Tanzania, but were ultimately beaten after a South African goal was disallowed by bad officiating.

And against Botswana, the laaities showed that they would staan sterk, even though they skopped stukkend by the Zebras and went on to win the match.

While, the boss only singled out one player – Kaapse ace Riyaad Norodien – for praise in the tournament, he will see there is talent further down the pecking order for the future.

Players such as centreback Mario Booysen will look a much better player next to a defender with experience. He read the game well and marshalled the defence well.

Midfielder Cole Alexander still has it, even if the two games he played for Bafana were the only games he has played in all year.

Cape Town City striker Judas Moseamedi is the sort of targetman who would thrive with more aggressive attackers to run off him.

Behind him Stellenbosch FC teenager Jamie Webber looked good on the ball as he looked to set up his teammates. His vision was good, but his execution was poor.

At the end of the day, though, Baxter will probably see the whole tournament as worthwhile thanks to seeing more players.

Right now, his only real game was the Afcon qualifier against Nigeria in Uyo and he won that.

So he won’t be having sleepless nights yet, knowing that he can rattle off a 23-man squad without a headache.

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