DAKAR, Senegal, November 14 – Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has insisted that there are no dead rubber games in the national team set-up and will select the best team for Tuesday’s final FIFA World Cup match against Teranga Lions of Senegal at Stade Leopold Sedar Senghor in Dakar (start 9.30pm)
“It is important to finish our campaign with a flourish. We are playing one of the biggest teams on the continent and this is a great stage for players to show their mettle,” said Baxter.
The Bafana mentor said it was important from both the psychological and confidence point of view to finish the campaign “as highest as possible”.
“Let’s make a big push to achieve that,” he added.
Looking back at Friday’s 2-0 defeat, Baxter said there were positives to take away from that game as much as the result was “not what we wanted”.
“Friday’s match showed we can match the best on the continent. It also showed we can be our own worst enemies at times. We had Senegal against the ropes for most of the first half but failed to take our chances.
“This has been our constant problem whether in the domestic league or national level – failure to convert numerous scoring chances; and in most cases you will be made to pay for it.”
Baxter said the solution to this problem was to develop a culture of being more consistent and more clinical in front of goal especially when the team is enjoying good periods of play.
The national team coach said there were a number of youngsters coming through the ranks and he was also encouraged by how the country was developing its own playing identity and culture.
“But such progression is at times hampered by a failure to get results on the field of play on a consistent basis; because winning games is what qualifies you for tournaments,” he said, adding it was important to bring through as many youngsters as possible.
He added this was not the time to despair but to continue working hard and persevere.
“There is an urgent need though to quicken this process.”