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Baxter has Libya on his mind as Bafana's final Afcon hurdle looms large

19 November 2018 - 14:39 By Sazi Hadebe
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is suddenly under pressure to qualify South Africa for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Bafana Bafana coach Stuart Baxter is suddenly under pressure to qualify South Africa for the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations.
Image: Lefty Shivambu

Bafana Bafana's date with destiny might still be four months away but coach Stuart Baxter is already thinking about how to negotiate a successful path past Libya.

Bafana only have to avoid defeat in the away final 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against the Libyans in March to clinch a qualification berth to the Cameroon tournament.

“It’s going to be a mental issue again‚” said Baxter.

“You can excuse some other players for feeling that ‘we have to be careful‚ we only need a draw’.

“So I think the best way we can approach this game is to go there and play a normal game.

“If we play a normal game‚ there is only one team that’s scored a goal against us......

"If we do that and they don’t score than we are through."

This crunch qualifier could be played either in Egypt or Tunisia as the Confederation of African Football (Caf) does not allow the Libyans to play at home due to the unrest in their country.

Bafana could have avoided all this uncertainty had they made better use of the numerous opportunities they had during the qualifying programme.

Baxter's charges contrived to draw with minnows Seychelles and Libya in games that could prove very costly if they come unstuck in that now crucial final qualifier.

The Super Eagles emerged as the first team to qualify in Group E with the point they earned in the 1-1 draw against Bafana in Johannesburg at the weekend.

“So I don’t think we need to go there and play a park the bus type of a game‚" an optimistic Baxter said.

"I don’t think we need to be too gung-ho but when the opportunity arises we are going to get in their faces and make sure that they take care of our movements.

“Going there they will see a better South African team and hopefully they will see a mentally stronger South African team.

“That is maybe the key.”

Bafana were held to a 0-0 draw in the first encounter against Libya at Moses Mabhida Stadium in Durban in September in a match the visitors were unlucky not to win as they created the better opportunities with their relentless attacks.