Bafana Bafana of South Africa have stepped up their plot to stop Nigeria from qualifying for next year’s Africa Cup of Nations, as the team’s coach, Stuart Baxter has charged his players to whip Libya next weekend.
The South Africans are set to host the table-topping Libyans in Durban next Saturday, and Baxter reckons it is the best opportunity for them to consolidate on their opening match day 2-0 win away to Nigeria in Uyo.
It took a 5-1 win by Libya at home against Seychelles to stop South Africa from going top of the qualification group, from which only one team will qualify for Cameroon 2019, and Baxter says now is the team to put distance between them and Nigeria.
Baxter, though, warned Bafana that the AFCON 2019 qualifiers will not be one-sided, as he says no team should be considered small any longer in African and global football.
He recounted how the team flopped in last year’s World Cup qualifiers, when they were beaten both home and away by Cape Verde, a country whose population could fit into a Johannesburg suburb.
After naming a 22-player squad for the Group E clash with Libya, Baxter also recounted the heroics of Iceland at Euro 2016, but said Bafana are determined to bounce back from failing to qualify for the World Cup in Russia.
Baxter said: “In all humility, it has not been a strength of South Africa when they take on some of these countries that, on paper, are not the greatest on the planet.
“To start with, names mean nothing anymore but performances mean something and we have got to try to make sure that we give the sort of performance that is going to give us the three points.
“This is certainly a Libyan team that is capable They are almost constantly in camp together, affording their coach a lot of time to prepare the team and I have seen this team give Morocco a real scare.
“I see this team as a well organised team – maybe not with the household names that Senegal, Cameroon and the Ivory Coast have, but this is a workman-like team that will present a real challenge for us.
“When you look at global football, the names of the countries are becoming less and less important.
“Iceland were only four or five years ago a total no-hoper and on this African continent we get constant surprises from teams that only five or six years ago would have been whipping boys.”