Bafana coach Stuart Baxter not taking Madagascar lightly in Cosafa quarters

02 June 2018 - 11:59 By Marc Strydom
Stuart Baxter. File photo
Stuart Baxter. File photo

Madagascar have some pace in attack but they are mostly physical‚ Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter has said of his youthful side's Cosafa Cup quarterfinal opponents at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium on Sunday.

Madagascar clinched top spot in Group A with a 1-0 win against Seychelles at Old Peter Mokaba Stadium on Thursday.

They beat Mozambique 2-1 in their opener‚ then they were held to a 1-1 draw by Comoros.

Baxter was in the stands to watch Madagascar's win against Seychelles.

“They've got two good wide players‚ the nine [Tsito Rafafindrasata] and the 15 [Jaotombo Bourahim]. They're both quite technical‚" the coach said.

"Apart from that it was a little bit hectic. Very physical. And I think they play quick‚ and they attack quick.

"And I think we've got to take a lot of care with our possession and pay attention to our defending one versus one‚ so that we don't get dominated just physically.

“Make them chase it‚ make sure that we can penetrate them with control. And then we've got to make sure that our defending‚ we pay attention to it."

Madagascar should not be able to match Bafana's higher level of Premier Soccer League-influenced organisation.

“Organisation I think not. Speed maybe‚ but speed with control is what we've got to be looking for‚" Baxter said.

"They're speedy with pace and power‚ but they turn the ball over a lot. So our transitions will be important as well."

First games can be a banana skin for the two teams who have a bye into the quarters who must meet the sides who have come through the group stage‚ and have the advantage of already having played three keenly-fought matches.

"The team [Bafana] has been together and we've played a little friendly and some XI v XI practise games. That's what we've had with the team together‚" Baxter said.

"The first game for us is going to be probably the most difficult. Because we've got to get together and gel a bit. And then your confidence is up and you've got a better understanding."

Botswana confirmed themselves as the form team of the group phase‚ and potentially a side who could even go all the way in this competition‚ with a 6-0 thrashing of Mauritius‚ their biggest winning margin‚ on Friday night to clinch winning Group B. Botswana meet Zimbabwe in Sunday's other quarterfinal.

In Saturday's quarters the other four teams who had byes past the group phase meet each other.

Zambia meet Namibia then Lesotho face Swaziland and all the quarterfinals will be held at the New Peter Mokaba Stadium.

Cosafa Cup Quarterfinals Saturday: Zambia v Namibia (3pm)‚ Lesotho v Swaziland (5.30pm) Sunday: South Africa v Madagascar (3pm)‚ Zimbabwe v Botswana (5.30pm) * Marc Strydom is in Polokwane as a guest of Cosafa