Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter was pleased with how his charges bounced back from a loss to Tanzania to defeat Botswana 2-0 in the COSAFA Castle Cup plate semi-finals on Tuesday.
Goals in either half from Riyaad Norodien and substitute Judas Moseamedi at Moruleng Stadium were enough to see Bafana through to the plate final on Friday against Namibia, who brushed aside Swaziland 1-0 in the other semi-final.
Baxter made seven changes to the team that lost against Tanzania.
“The first half was quite tough on our side because we were naïve and made poor decisions. Also, the rhythm of the game was broken down by constant fouls, so it was difficult for the younger boys in the team to find their feet. We started the last 15 minutes of the first half being a little more calculating and fixed a few things at half time,” said Baxter.
“The second half became a game of set-plays and our boys defended them very well, which was pleasing to see. We had many chances on transition when they were stretched and out of balance, and it was just that we scored the second goal because on chances created it was a true reflection of the game.”
Baxter was also impressed with how his players handled the physical contest.
“Under physical pressure the first thing that goes is the technique, so it was pleasing that we stuck to what we wanted to play, we didn’t resort to just launching the ball forward and fighting – it stayed a game of football.
“My players pitched up against Botswana, and they didn’t buckle under pressure, they didn’t throw in the towel and they kept on battling – but as for technical and decision-making issues, we will have to talk about that because there were a lot of poor ones,” said Baxter.
For the clash against Namibia, Baxter will weigh his options in terms of the personnel to use.
“We have to stay true to what we set out to do with the COSAFA CUP – and that is to invest a lot of international experience and give the youngsters these sort of experiences. When young players play a game like that in a national shirt, it is good investment,” said Baxter.
“It’s like treading a fine line – you don’t want to throw them into the deep end but also you don’t want to deprive them of the chance. But, yes, eventually we will try to turn to a little more experienced team but I still want to have that element of development otherwise we are not true to what we set out to do.”
About his dismissal in the dying minutes of the game, the Bafana mentor said it was warranted but explained his behaviour.
“I deserve to be sent off because I swore. Swearing was the only way of making a stronger appeal that our doctor should go onto the field as there was a player down with a head injury.
I was trying to tell the fourth official about that but he was telling my medical team to hold back – I don’t think it’s the correct procedure when it’s a head injury, I think you should get them on as quickly as you can,” said Baxter.
South Africa and Namibia will contest the plate final at 17h00 at Moruleng Stadium on Friday. – KickOff