Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter will not entertain negative talk of South Africa once again failing to qualify for the Soccer World Cup.
The South Africans find themselves on the back foot after their disappointing 2-1 away defeat to minnows Cape Verde on Friday night.
But Bafana have a chance to make amends against the same opposition in the return 2018 World Cup qualifier at the Moses Mabhida Stadium on Tuesday night (7pm).
Baxter has backed his charges to bounce back from the disappointment and will not entertain any thoughts that Bafana may once again fail to qualify for the global showpiece.
« The fact that we haven’t qualified in a long time (since 2002) brings an element of anxiety‚ because on the one hand the squad is desperate to give the supporters what they want‚ but hoping that they don’t fail‚ » Baxter said from Durban on Sunday.
« On the other hand there is this prize that is the World Cup and they are desperately trying to get there.
« So it’s like nervous if you do and nervous if you don’t.
« So to get that settled and try to get a mental balance is difficult. »
The 2-1 defeat to Cape Verde‚ a side many expected Bafana to beat‚ could have proved very costly but Baxter’s charges were given a reprieve when the star-studded Senegal played to a costly home 0-0 draw with Burkina Faso on Saturday night.
The result kept Bafana in the hunt and Group D remains wide open.
Baxter‚ though‚ should know better than to dwell on the excuses many of his predecessors used when things did not go their way.
The Briton complained about the limited time he had with his players ahead of the back-to-back qualifiers against Cape Verde‚ offering an all too familiar excuse used by many former Bafana coaches.
« The most difficult thing for me is the fact that if you look‚ I mean going into the Cape Verde game‚ I think I had eight sessions with this squad‚ » Baxter said.
« I had five against Nigeria (in June) and now we had three‚ possibly four‚ sessions.
« No‚ three because half the lads went straight there (Europe based) and half the lads were here (in SA).
« So the most difficult thing for me is try to get some continuity to make sure everybody is on the same page you know.
« Now we are going to make a couple of changes‚ probably‚ and you’ve got one and half sessions to get things to bed again.
« That for me is the most difficult thing. »
Despite the challenges‚ he refused to be drawn into suggestions that Bafana may falter again and miss out on the big tournament.
« Let’s concentrate on the here and now.
« I’m not going to be thinking negatively at all.
« If it becomes a fact later on I will deal with it. »
Bafana playmaker Thulani Serero is available for Tuesday’s clash in Durban after missing Friday’s away outing with a hamstring strain.
Baxter is also considering bringing in another centre-back following Eric Mathoho’s red card in Praia.
Leaders Burkina Faso remain top of Group D with five points‚ followed by Senegal and Bafana both on four points‚ and finally bottom side Cape Verde on three.